The blogosphere doesn’t need a code of conduct

Do yourself a favor and go read the reaction by Jeff Jarvis to the New York Times’ attempt to boost Tim O’Reilly for his proposed “rules” for bloggers. It’s a spot-on analysis that I won’t attempt to reproduce with my own words.

In a nutshell, O’Reilly wants the blogosphere to behave, and Jeff rightly calls this dangerous.

This effort misses the point of the internet, blogs, and even of civilized behavior. They treat the blogosphere as if it were a school library where someone — they’ll do us the favor — can maintain order and control. They treat it as a medium for media. But as Doc Searls has taught me, it’s not. It’s a place. And when I moved into the place that is my town, I didn’t put up a badge on my fence saying that I’d be a good neighbor (and thus anyone without that badge is, de facto, a bad neighbor). I didn’t have to pledge to act civilized. I just do. And if I don’t, you can judge me accordingly. Are there rules and laws? Yes, the same ones that exist in worlds physical or virtual: If I libel or defame you on the streetcorner or in a paper or on a screen, the recourse is the same. But I don’t put up another badge on my fence saying I won’t libel you. I just don’t. That’s how the world works. Why should this new world work any differently? Why should it operate with more controls and more controllers?

The New York Times, of course, promotes the idea, because they would be well-served with a blogosphere that was forced to play by their rules.

Here’s the thing about blogs that most big-time media observers miss: while there are a few who rise to mainstream audience levels, the vast majority of blogs are just personal observations about this or that. If you don’t know that, you’ve never been to MySpace, and you certainly don’t have a MySpace account. Every MySpace user has a blog, and you’d be amazed at the number of people there who make entries. We’re going to give these people a set of behavior rules?

You see, this is all about big media’s obsession with the need to control what they view as a media threat. It may be a threat, but as Jeff and Doc note, the web is a place, and we don’t need artificial special rules to bring it in line with institutional life.

Comments

  1. ok, if we must settle for rules, can we demand that if you BLOG “wbig-style” that you must allow comments?

    i thought not.

  2. I quote the Monty Python “Bruces” sketch:

    “Rule number six: there is no rule six.”

    Same goes for 1–5.

    But here’s a modest compromise: I will follow the blogger rules if MSM outlets follow my rules. Rule #1: Treat me as an intelligent human being. Rule #2: Listen to me. Rule #3: Reflect my interests. Rule #4: Don’t waste my time with a bunch of commercials unrelated to products that don’t interest me. Rule #5: Tell me the news. Rule #6: There is no rule 6.

    There is no way I will lose this bet.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Terry Heaton says the New York Times has taken up the call for a code of behaviour for bloggers because they would be well-served with a blogosphere that was forced to play by their rules …You see, this is all about big media’s obsession with the need to control what they view as a media threat. […]

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