Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Would That Which We Call a Blog...?

UPDATE: Ann Salisbury comes up with some additional good thoughts.


The question of pseudonymous blogging comes up from time to time. Now, it is Steven Den Beste writing that "someone who pontificates anonymously is suspect."

Perhaps this is a variant on, or a corollary of, the old French adage: "He who is absent is guilty!" Regardless, one would hope that someone who pontificates is generally suspect, regardless of whether such pontification is issued under a given name or under an assumed name, as the Popes issue their pontifications.

Steven seems to have entered these considerations by way of a discussion with Demosthenes, who has his own reasons for pseudonymous blogging, reasons with which Steven does not agree. Those are not the reasons of the Man Without Qualities, as explored in what I believe was a rather thoughtful discussion with Charles Murtagh, Derek Lowe and "Max Power" - but not referenced by Steven. I am generally sympathetic to many of Steven's musings. But I think that the context in which this dispute arose seems to have caused some confusion between arguments applicable to what weight one should give to what a particular blogger writes and arguments applicable to the issue of whether pseudonymous blogging is somehow improper.

I, personally, do not invite my readers to assume my writings have extra validity because of the way I apply them in my life – which I keep almost a complete cipher. The focus here is on the ideas and their formulation ("you do not write poems with ideas, you write them with words") – not on any credential I may have by way of education or experience or success. The Man Without Qualities is, as far as his reader knows, without those Qualities – perhaps without a single one of the Four Qualities some deem prerequisites for avoiding condemnation as “worthless drivel” not worth reading.

Other than that, I don't have much to add now that wasn't aired when Charles previously raised the issue - except that I tend to the rather catholic view recently summarized nicely by InstaPundit.

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