November 9, 2007

BlogWorld Expo Panel Discussion: Raising The Level Of Discourse

One of the difficulties of attending an event like BlogWorld Expo is the sheer busy-ness that accompanies it. I'm exhibiting for BlogTalkRadio as well as being a speaker at the expo, and still trying to get around to see some of the offerings by other vendors. That takes quite a bit of time, and it's difficult to compress that into a blog narrative for readers.

Yesterday, I participated as a panelist on a subject matter that intrigues me: raising the level of discourse in the blogosphere. We had a pretty good mix of bloggers on this panel, with Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit, Roger Simon, Jeralyn Merritt of Talk Left, Natasha (whose blog I cannot recall), and Michael Medved -- who got stuck with moderating the panel on 30 seconds' notice. He did a great job, but I'm certain he was rightly nonplussed to have to handle a panel with no preparation, although he did his best not to let it show.

The discussion went better than I expected. Some people demanded responses to specific and alleged violations of comity by various bloggers and commentators, but for the most part, we moved beyond rehashing old debates and focused on how to specifically improve communication. We talked about bright lines for bloggers on topics and attacks, where they exist (if they exist), and whether they exist as a broad agreement.

One of the more interesting points came when talking about anonymity. Some panelists felt that anonymous postings degrade the level of discourse through a lack of responsibility, and some felt it should be restricted in some manner. I disagreed, noting that pseudonymous political essayists have a long, rich tradition in Western history, including Americans such as those who wrote the Federalist Papers, although that example came from Jeralyn. I expressed some discomfort at "prohibiting" anonymity, and wondered how it would be enforced in any case.

Frequent CapQ commenter KT Cat attended this session and has more notes on the topic. He has a fair amount of criticism for the panelists, all of which seems reasonable enough and at a high level of discourse, if you will. All in all, I found the panel and the discussion to exemplify the highest level of discourse between bloggers of varying stripes -- an excellent prototype for all of us to recall as we continue the debate on line.


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