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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Mixed News -- the Iraqi Web Loggers

Good news! Once again Riverbend is back and apparently little the worse for the wear, though it's hard to understand how she can function so well amid the continuing tragedy that is the city of Baghdad. She posted on the 9th and again on the 11th, after not being heard from for nearly two and a half months.

This time I wasn't particularly worried. If anything had happened to her, I was certain that the news would have tolled out of Iraq loud and clear.

The reason for her long absence resonates. She said she simply needed a vacation from blogging. Click "Baghdad Burning," in the links to the left of this post. Her post of the 11th is especially interesting because it records the reactions of herself and other Iraqis to the events of 9/11. As soon as they heard about it they started stocking up. From thousands of miles away they knew the White House mind long before most Americans did.

Equally interesting is the bad news from another Iraqi weblog, "Raed in the Middle." Raed has canceled his Comments section. He said he had accumulated tens of thousands of comments and they had gotten to be far too much for him and his helpers to manage. Added to that he was no longer able to deal with all the hostility expressed in many of the comments. Also he cited a lawsuit in which an internet company in the U.S. is suing the proprietor of a weblog because of comments posted on the site.

Tens of thousands! That boggles my mind, and you can understand if you check my counter, which has been running for a year and a half. But in his letters Vincent Van Gogh quoted a sculptor who said that fame is like having the lighted end of a cigar thrust into your mouth.

Although many distinguished webloggists like Riverbend and Juan Cole do not allow comments, a weblog is a method of communication, and to me that implies give and take, which means that comments are essential. But I guess I can say that, as I am not in any danger of piling up tens of thousands.

As for being sued for comments that others post on a weblog, how can that be? Here is an article that does a good job of discussing the case that spooked Raed. (http://online.wsj.com/public/article/0,,SB112541909221726743-_vX2YpePQV7AOIl2Jeebz4FAfS4_20060831,00.html?mod=blogs)

As I read it this case doesn't involve the politics that are part and parcel of most of the weblogs that I feel related to. Instead this and the other cases mentioned all have to do with trade secrets. So it's easy to think that Raed is using that to prop up his rationale for ceasing to allow his readers to get in their two cents worth.

Or maybe he has become justifiably gunshy. I forgot to mention again that some local pluguglies snatched his brother and held him in grim custody for a time, apparently because of comments posted on his blog.


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