Me and Popfiend
K.T. Pinto and I
Me with Popfiend
What My Cat Had For Breakfast.
Just because everyone can have a blog does that mean everyone should? Panelists discuss what kind of personal responsibility comes with putting your thoughts out there for the world to read.
We talked about the ethics of blogging: what you should write and the consequences for making private things public. I was in great company, with online friends Popfiend (whom I first met at Philcon last year) on the panel and norda in the audience.
The panelists discussed the importance of determining your purpose for blogging (for example, self-expression, promotion of personal projects, or personal venting to friends only), how public you want the entries to be, and how to write for your audience.
Most of the panelists use our blogs as an extension of our professional careers: using our real names, and sharing both personal experiences and thoughts on our areas of expertise, such as writing. In that sense, it's very important to be careful what subjects to discuss. K.T. Pinto, for example, said she has learned to avoid certain subjects, such as religion, because they start too many flame wars. Terri Osbourne agreed, and added that readers can't view your tone of voice of body language. It's easy to accidentally upset somebody by phrasing something in a way they view as being inflammatory.
Popfiend used the analogy of a huge button that sets people off but which might be completely invisible to others. You might not press the button on purpose, but if you accidentally brush it or, perhaps, lean on it, you set that person off and they may go into attack mode.
I pointed out that you can't control how other people respond to what you post, but you can control your response. I liken my typical method to an Akido master. If somebody comes at you with a punch, instead of meeting them with a punch, you step aside and let them punch the wall behind you!
An audience member raised his hand and said, "It sounds like you just don't like conflict." We replied that it's not conflict, per se. Discussions are fine. It's the level of nastiness that can elevate quickly online, even in response to postings that the authors believe are reasonable and inoffensive. We all agreed that civil discourse is the best way to deal with most conflicts. Sometimes, as well, you simply have to agree to disagree.
I thought that panel was a great way to finish my panel experiences. We had a large audience of about 15 people who seemed to be interested and knowledgeable about the topic, and my fellow panelists were thoughtful and engaging. Out of curiosity, I asked the audience member to raise their hands if they were using LiveJournal, and nearly all of them were. It still remains the number one blogging community for geeks.
Outside the panel, I paused briefly for a picture with Popfiend, and then I dashed to meet up with Catherine Asaro for my planned Wild Violet interview.
If you fight fire with fire, you get burned!