Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Some Thoughts on Blogging

As you can easily figure out from its title, I started GlobalTalk 21 with the intent to put down my thoughts on international relations. In the beginning, I translated all my posts into Japanese; the need to make a living put an end to that very quickly. This did not really matter, since my posts over time began to revolve mainly around Japanese politics. After all, with 130 million Japanese and counting (down), there must be someone, somewhere who must be posting the same things that I’m saying on any particular post to a much wider Japanese readership than mine. But in English? And that is how it came to pass, or so I think. I’m trying to rebalance that by setting up a Japanese-language blog around US politics and other subjects that might be of interest to Japanese readers—I am realistic enough to know that few English speakers will come to me for bits of wisdom on US politics. Any subject, of course, could turn up in one, the other, or both blogs.

Also at the very beginning of this blog, I decided to blog under my own name. I did this, partly to brand myself, partly to assume responsibility for every word I would come to write. I also give my real name with any comments that I make on other people’s blogs. Moreover, I respond to every comment that I receive, friendly or hostile, self-identified or anonymous, and will continue to do so as long as I can. I owe that to the people who not only read my blog but take the time to comment.

Speaking of anonymity, I obviously have more respect for people who blog under their own names or some other permanent identity. They are putting their reputations at risk. Not that I cut them any more slack for that, as you can see from some of my counter-comments to a MTC, and he/she happens to be a good friend. Nevertheless, anonymity is not a part of the Internet Blovination that I find particularly attractive, as my dismissive posts and comments about the Japanese Internet forum 2 Channeru will testify. But all traffic is inherently good, and some intelligent, otherwise perfectly upright people do comment anonymously (although often more pungently, if you will, than people who disclose their identities). Unfortunately, there are people who say good things to you or about you, but act differently towards you under the cloak of anonymity. Even when I’m sure of their identities, I’ll tolerate them on a social/professional level—no man is an island—but it’s not a very pleasant fact of life.

080513I’m Not Sure What These Polls Are Trying to Tell Us about Our Political Parties and Their Leaders

Shinzo Abe, Yasuo Fukuda, Gordon Brown, Nicholas Sarkozy, Lee Myung-bak: What do these heads of state or government have in common? They all started their jobs with high opinion poll numbers that fell steeply, very early in their respective administrations.

Popularity Gap between Political Leaders and Their Parties

...remind myself not to start multiple drafts on single Word file...


Janne Morén said...

You could ask, of course, if anonymity or not is an all-or-nothing affair. I am not anonymous, in the sense that I blog and comment under my own name, but as far as you know, "Janne Morén" could be (well, is, really) anybody. I could be exactly who I say I am. I could be honest about every single thing, except having photoshopped a beard onto my cleanshaven face in any pictures. I could be a figment of someone's imagination, an ongoing performance project from a not-very successful art collective in Berlin.

A name is a very trustworthy-seeming thing to have. It seems even more trustworthy if a quick, superficial search seems to corroborate its authenticity. It's not at all clear that it really does deserve all that trust we attribute to it.

But as far as a blog commenter is concerned, is a "real" name all it's cranked up to be? Say you would have, on your blog, a person leaving a single comment under what seems their own name, never to reappear again; or a anonymous/pseudonymous commenter that returns over and over again, with a consistent voice and point of view. Which of these two people would be more worthy of trust? A "real" person with no backstory and no indications of their reliability or honesty; or a pseudonymous commenter that has proven themselves over and over again? I suspect the question of identity in the "real-life label" sense is not what we want, as much as identity in the "consistency" sense - we want to know we are dealing with the same person, more than knowing who the person actually is. Which, for instance makes MTC an effective blogger despite their pseudonymity.

Jun Okumura said...

MTC? Exactly. Note, for example, that I do not make any distinctions between permnanent identities and what you call "real" names.

As for "Janne Morén", it has quite a substantial Internet presence. Even if there is no corporeal "you" out there, "Janne Morén" has definitely passed the Turing Test, with the small qualification that your powers of logic suggest that you may be a Vulcan. No problem, though; Vulcans and humans are known to interbreed.