Sunday, April 01, 2007

A human experience

I have found it fascinating to watch the every widening ripples that the Kathy Sierra et al saga has unleashed.  Tom O'reilly has just posted the basics of a code of conduct, which continues the expanding ripples.

Even more fascinating is how entirely human the whole issue is.  How entirely human the responses and counter responses, the alliances and friendships are.  All in all, I found it demonstrates one very, very important fact: geeks, techs are as irrational and human as the rest of the population.  They are as likely to get angry, to be mean as anyone.

What concerns me most is the seeming wide acceptance of meaness not only in Tech based blogs but also in political blogs as well, even across the whole blogsphere.  The acceptance of meaness hidden behind freedom of speech. Does this not de-value the concept and importance of freedom of speech when it becomes something to prop up an individuals own pettiness and anger? If I remember my history lessons correctly, freedom of speech is about disagreeing with government.  It was never there to protect some one from the consequences of every thing they say.  Something a long history of court decisions has upheld.

The web and internet has grown since the early days.  The norms that arose in those days hung together as a majority of the users belong to the same community and with that community came limits on behaviour.  Now that the majority of users do not come from the same community the norms of behaviour to a greater or less extent do not have the weight or power they use to.  The internet has descended into a "Lord of the Flies".


nkilkenny said...

The internet does not have to descend into anything if we do not let it. Malicious behavior in any public form will exist regardless of efforts to control it. Sadly, that's human nature. Somehow I feel that attacking the perpetrators head on is useless

Simon Cast said...

Yes, it is very "Lord of the Flies". Civil society is based on rules, but I think that a lot of the web have the mistake equation of rules = censorship.