Man Without Qualities

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Local to Global... Local to Global ... Collect Call For You!

Charles Murtaugh, who writes a very nice blog which I often enjoy in my pseudonymous privacy, is calling for a boycott on links to pseudonymous blogs (like this one). I don’t agree, and not just because of my personal status.

As the cartoon line goes “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” This site is known to be maintained under a pseudonym because I chose that. I could just as easily have pretended to maintain it under a phony “real” name (say, “Charles Murtaugh”). Who would know? In fact, it turns out that there is a very politically active Robert K. Musil out there – who has nothing to do with this blog and whom I have never met. It seems to me that what Charles is suggesting just creates an incentive for bloggers with frankly pseudonymous blogs to instead maintain clandestine pseudonymous blogs. Not everyone would see that development as an advance. The situation would resemble that in the theory one sometimes sees advanced that all of Shakespeare’s plays were written by another person …. WITH THE SAME NAME!

Further, it isn’t the pseudonymity (my God, this vocabulary is turning into a black hole!) that is bothering Charles. It’s the content of the some pseudonymous blogs. That seems to lead to advocating not linking to sites whose content one does not care for. Most people probably do that anyway to some extent, at least locally.

But perhaps Charles should advocate that before linking to a particular article in a blog one should survey the blog more generally to determine whether one approves of the blog globally? Wouldn't that be a more targeted and effective approach? I don't generally follow that approach myself, and I don't intend to - unless a blog (or other site) is very offensive indeed. I'm just suggesting that it would serve Charles' concerns better.

All of which draws to my attention that for some reason I do not have a permanent link in the left column to either Charles or to Derek Lowe, an astounding situation which will be remedied immediately.

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