Blogging: the good, the bad and the ugly

As will be evident from NightHawk, I’m a big fan of blogging – but the blogosphere is a problematic space.
Firstly, it is not unknown for bloggers to be dismissed by their employers because they blog. But the good news is that one such blogger has just won a court case in which her employer was found to have acted illegally in dismissing her. Catherine Sanderson was dismissed from her job as a secretary with the Paris branch of British accountancy firm Dixon Wilson last summer after bosses discovered her popular blog. You can read more about the case here.
Secondly, blogs – and other on-line fora – can attract highly abuse comments. The bad news is that Kathy Sierra cancelled her scheduled appearance at San Diego’s ETech conference because of violently abuse material postedon-line about her. You can read her account on her own blog.
I agree with her totally when she writes:

“… do not tolerate the kind of abuse that includes threats or even suggestions of violence (especially sexual violence). Do not put these people on a pedestal. Do not let them get away with calling this “social commentary”, “protected speech”, or simply “criticism”. I would never be for censoring speech–these people can say all the misogynistic, vile, tasteless things they like–but we must preserve that line where words and images become threats of violence. Freedom of speech–however distasteful and rude the speech may be, is crucial. But when those words contain threats of harm or death, they can destroy a life.”

I only learned abou the Kathy Sierra case when I was contacted about it by a journalist on “Scotland on Sunday” (Scotland’s biggest national Sunday broadsheet). I wondered how the journalist came across me, but it seems that she sees the issue as one of Internet ethics – two words not often associated with one another – and an interesting thing happens if you type the words “Internet ethics” into Google (try it).