The Guardian levied an accusation against the blogosphere in todays paper. They suggest that it “… risks putting off everyone but point-scoring males”. When I first read the headline I felt a typical bloggers outrage at having my corner of the web criticised, but then I thought about it for minute and realised that it is my immediate reaction, were it to be put down on my blog, that brings about that outsiders view of the blogosphere. As such I’m going to address this in a much more matter of fact way and give my straight up honest take on the very fabric in which I express my views.
The WWW (World Wide Web) is a collection of communities, much like those we find in any country you care to name in the world. The main difference with the WWW is that each of these communities are in easy reach of each other. A matter of milliseconds in fact. The big question I have though, is how is any given offline community different from one, say, in a particular area of a city?
A city community will have an accepted way of behaving, of conducting your life, the way you speak to other people etc. An online community will have the same. To illustrate this, consider a technical forum where off-topic discussion is frowned upon and those who display more knowledge are respected above others and users expect to speak to other users in a certain way and for that to be reciprocated.
Our city community isn’t perfect however. Some people do things others don’t like, say things that are offensive, rebel against the status quo. These things are frowned upon and often cause an uproar, but none the less they go on, and simply get shouted down when they occur. Back then to our online technical community where occasionally someone offends someone else, perhaps by telling them they are wrong in a derogatory fashion. This is frowned upon by others and the offender is shouted down. These incidents still go on however and simply get shouted down when they occur.
See where I’m going? Just because its online, doesn’t mean we should expect everything we find to be tailored to us, just because we see it though a computer screen we call our own doesn’t mean everything we display on it should be suited specifically for us. We live our lives expecting some facts of our lives to offend us. Why should we demand that the WWW be exempt from this quite ordinary, accepted fact of life?
The blogosphere is a place on the WWW where anyone and everyone can express their opinions in articles or comments. We cannot and should not expect that the way others express their opinions to always match our preferred standards. In fact the very nature of the WWW is such that we can easily avoid things we don’t wish to see, or comments we don’t wish to read simply by choosing not to navgate to places on the web where these things reside, or when we find ourselves reading something we don’t want to read we can navigate away from it.
I don’t expect everyone to like what I write, I don’t expect everyone to read it, but I do expect EVERYONE to stand by and let me write it in the first place.
Not everyone likes tabloid newspapers, but I haven’t ever met one person who has been put off by reading ALL newspapers simply because tabloids exist. The sooner people start seeing the WWW and in particular the blogosphere as an extension to their everyday lives rather than a whole new environment the sooner they will see that the way it all works is not really any different to everything else around them. On that day, perhaps us bloggers will finally be left in peace.