A Question of Journalism, Ethics, and a Random Mass of People with Hammers

Here is the dirty truth: I have no idea what that 'Zephergate' thing was all about. I tried to make it through several blogposts that explained the contraversy; but I just couldn't get past the first few paragraphs. I'm simply not interested in such matters; and I make it a point to avoid the world of people that are. That said, I wanted to share some 'thoughts'(1) about the debate on blogging, ethics, and journalism.

The blog is a piece of software (a.k.a. a tool). Without a human being, a blog decays into a dead rotting lump ones and zeros ( a point well demonstrated by the millions of abandoned blogs). I feel that I'm restating the obvious here, however, I've yet to read my next point among the threads of comments in these debates. Questions about ethics in blogging can only be understood if posed in human-centered languge, and terms (2). Here's one way to think of it: every time you encounter a question related to blogs, replace the word "blog" with "hammer", and "blogosphere" with "pile of hammers". I've found the trick to be quite useful in helping me think about the questions in a clearer sense. For example:

  • What ethical obligations does someone accept when they use a hammer?
  • What can journalists learn from a collection of hammers?
In the first question, the answer depends fully on the situation in which the hammer is used. The second question is ludicrious; institutions have NOTHING to learn from tools. The institution can only figure out how to best use the tool for its own purposes (perhaps they should find a skilled hammerer to teach them). However, those are my weaker points.

The blog, in the most abstract of senses, is an expression of a human being. A blogged piece of content could be described as a textual manifestation of a blogger's varying degrees of intelligence, interests, purpose, motivation, and time. As a medium, the blog has vaporized the physical limitations of print and broadcast mediums. The publishing and broadcast industries rose to power because of their sole abilities to cover the huge costs of mantainance, distribution, and materials. Unfortunatly for them, those huge costs are becoming less and less relevent, and they will continue to loose their relevence; the worldwants to go free, open, and digital (this can be only prevented by ramming through some totalitarian copyright laws). Defenders of mediocrity in the MSM, most notatably the RIAA, are wise to fear and despise decentralized gift economies such as the blogosphere and p-2-p networks.

However, I'm off track, so I should come back to the main point: this is a question of humans, a certain tool for communicating, and what the end result will be. The only answers I am comfortable with even thinking about giving are:

1. The consequences of many-to-many publishing will be far reaching; and largely unforseen. It will be at least another 3-5 years before we have a clear understanding of what is happening right now, as you read this.

2. The more hierarchial an existing organization, of any type, including the army, government, ect... the less successful it will find itself in the future.

Someone once said, "history is nothing more than a list of suprises; it can only prepare us for a future of more suprises". Those two points are all that I know right now. However, I'm looking forward to a future of suprises.


1. The term "thoughts" is used in a loving sense. I opted to avoid the most accurate noun "ramble"

2. By "human", I mean questions of desire, stakes, motivation, what information one party has, and how they can use that to their advantage... ect.