Some anonymous poster decided to point me to this Wired article on blog attribution and virality.
I found myself sighing. There are some key assumptions built into the critique that bloggers borrow (a.k.a. steal) ideas from “lesser known bloggers.” First, there is the assumption that the goal of blogging is to become popular by spreading good memes. Certainly, there are many people for whom this is their goal. But damnit not all bloggers have the same goals.
On more than one occasion, i have blogged something and attributed it and been asked to remove attribution either to the individual or to their blog. Not everyone wants their name attached with the things that they uncover. There are politics involved. After a couple of awkward situations, i have reverted to not attributing unless known to be appropriate.
For example, when someone emails me a link to blog that they think is interesting, i never attribute it. But when they email me a link to their blog about something that they thought that i would find interesting, i do attribute it. I figure that if it is public enough for them to put it out there and tell me about it via their link, then they want to be attributed. Perhaps i’m making a mistake in this distinction. [If you’re one of the people who send me things and want attribution, just say so.]
Over and over again, i am told by look-at-me bloggers/technologists that blogging is public and everyone should be AOK with being seen. Guess what? Sitting in Golden Gate Park talking to my friends is a public activity, but i don’t really want/expect everyone in the world to be there too. The concept of public is far more complicated than we often realize.
When i link to someone’s blog, there are various ways that this can be read. It is not always about respect; sometimes, it is about exposing someone. That is not something that everyone wants. I’m finding myself increasingly frustrated that those covering blogging seem to think that there is a consistent goal, need and mode throughout bloggers.
I think that it is fascinating that HP is studying blogging along the lines of infection, but this is also quite problematic. Those studying infections are always obsessed with the source. Even if we are going to realize that meme sources are considered ‘good’ (while infection sources are considered ‘bad’), what on earth makes anyone think that all ‘good’ sources want to be found any more than ‘bad’ sources?
[Btw: can you tell that i’m getting interested in blogging? I’m finding myself vocalizing my frustration towards all things blog related these days.]