Sunday, 29 November 2009

Belle de Blog

Two weeks ago, a blogger unmasked herself. A research scientist called Dr Brooke Magnanti fessed up to being Belle de Jour, the well known ex-hooker blogger. I say well known. It seems the blog was well known to everyone but me. But now I’ve caught up.

I have followed the story for the last two weeks and all its ups and downs as I had followed the NightJack story before and the Girl with a One-Track Mind unmasking before that.

My interest is because, like her, I blog under a pseudonym. Now, my reasons are different from the three much better bloggers previously mentioned. NightJack was a serving policeman blogging about the madness of everyday policing. Belle and The Girl were hiding the intimate secrets of their lives.

I blog anonymously because (a) I have a professional life and want to divorce my private musings from my work, my employer and my profession, and (b) it allows me to be so much more free with my thoughts and language.

Question: should bloggers be allowed to be anonymous?

Answer: does the right to free speech (accepting the reasonable constraint of libel) no longer exist? After this year's NighJack ruling, it seems not. Silly really, becasue I guess that large organisations can track down bloggers or close them down if they put their mind to it, so why does it matter? In reality, I think it doesn’t. Not at all in fact.

But the media hates blogger anonymity and various journos have tried to unmask some of us, viz the three previously mentioned bloggers and more. Why?

Two reasons methinks:

1.The print media (aka the dead tree press) are failing badly and are on a constant downhill trajectory. Trade and regional titles are closing left and right. Fleet Street margins are now almost non-existent. Why? Because you can now get so much content for free online. Wake up guys. Your business models are fucked. Thus, they love to attack their new growing competition as they fail.
2. Journos love exposing secrets. It’s what gets them notoriety and thus more money. It’s not for principle or any laudable reason, trust me. Just money.

But here’s the thing: exposing bloggers achieves nothing – apart from selling some more papers – and in fact makes society less rich, less interesting and less informed. We know less about the madness of policing now that NightJack is dead.

Blogs that expose how stupid society now is, make fascinating, insightful and riveting reading. I love Random Acts of Reality as it graphically reminds us how appalling our society now is and how the London Ambulance Service has to deal with us binge drinking morons. The Magistrate’s Blog shows us how ridiculous our court system has become. Inspector Gadget and The Policeman’s Blog tells us the reality of policing in 2009.

We need these guys and their insights.

But, I can see that the political class with their arrogant belief in regulating everything, aided and abetted by journos who like King Canute want to halt the rise of free internet content, will conspire sometime in the future to try and regulate the blogosphere. One moron has already suggested it.

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