Kathy Sierra moves on... Alec calls for civility and an apology... and some thoughts on the mob rush to judgement
Per Alec Saunder's great post this morning, I learned that Kathy Sierra wrote a "final post" on her blog and is now debating what to do next... but fairly certain it won't involve blogging or public speaking, at least for some period of time. Her post is a good one and includes at the end of her text a collection of some of the great pictures that populated her posts. I always enjoyed her posts not only for her great content, but also for all these great graphics that she created. She has a fun and witty way of simplyifying complex issues into simple pictures. If you haven't seen her work, do scroll down through her post to see the images. They're worth it.
I think it is a loss for us all if she is now ending her blogging (at least in this form and place), but I don't underestimate the issues with which she is grappling. Given all that has transpired and the heinous images and text she had to deal with, it's definitely understandable that she's going to take some time to figure out what's next. I do hope she does figure out a way to continue her teaching... she's good at it and her continued voice would be good to have out there.
Alec's post, though, brought my thoughts back to the third post I was intending to write here on the situation. When the whole storm started, I wrote some initial thoughts and wondered if maybe this might make people think. I followed up with a post of links, but I had another post I started which I titled "Kathy Sierra and the Blogosphere's Mad Rush to Judgement"... but then life intervened and the time to write that post never materialized... in the meantime, though, others did perhaps a far better job than I would have. Two in particular I liked:
- Stephanie Booth, "Disturbed About Reactions to Kathy Sierra's Post" (and yes, I mentioned this in my second post)
- Ronni Barrett, "In the Matter of Kathy Sierra"
Stephanie's post included this text, which said it well:
Please, Blogosphere. Keep your wits. This is a messy ugly story, and oversimplications will help nobody. Holding people guilty until proven innocent doesn’t either. <text snipped>
If you have something thoughtful to say, then say it. But if all you have to say has already been said out there ten times, or if you won’t take the trouble to check your sources, read carefully, calm down before blogging, avoid over-generalisations, and thus avoid feeding the already bloated echo-chamber — just go out for a walk in the sun and let the people involved sort themselves out.
Indeed. That's largely why I didn't post here more on the issue... I didn't have the time to check sources and do the other work to add anything thoughtful. Without that work, what could I have added? Not relying on a single source is absolutely critical... and yet it is something that seems to be forgotten by so many as rumors simply propagate through the blogosphere. (I found myself just this morning sitting on a story that I could have run with (for an internal blog)... but waited until I could confirm with a second source.) It's a lot easier just to hit Publish and send the words off.
I also was not involved directly in the issue... and it seemed that certainly initially there was a huge amount of posting - without hearing from all the folks involved.
It's also key to remember that we have many other ways of communicating and getting information directly from people involved in the situation. Jim Turner has provided some good and detailed coverage of the whole situation and one of the things that I have most respected is that he has done the extra work and done things like, oh, calling up people involved on the phone! Novel concept, eh? In our online world, people often tend to forget about that little phone thingie sitting on their desk... but having that direct conversation can be so critical.
I note that the storm continues... the NY Times: "A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs"... Tim O'Reilly issued his draft code of conduct... Business Week: "Web Attack" (which isn't about Sierra but about similar online nastiness as it relates to business) and "Managing the Menace of Online Mobs"...
Do we need a defined "code of conduct" for the blogosphere? I don't know that we need something formal to which people agree... I'd like to hope we're all adults here (and yes, I realized that there are kids posting out there)... and if you look at Tim's code of conduct, you could more or less summarize it as:
- Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You
- "Didn't your mother always tell you: 'If you don't have something nice to say about someone, don't say anything at all.'"
Call it what you will... in the end I think we all need to just be a bit more civil to each other... to make sure there are verifiable sources for what we write... to take deep breaths (and breaks) before responding to emotionally-charged issues/comments... to treat other bloggers the way we want them to treat us.
Will we? The optimist in me would like to hope so... (they cynic in me says we've been dealing with this issue since the dawn of time and so while this whole episode is a welcome reminder, it's certainly only a matter of time before it crops up again...)