Log Truck Descending 4th Ave Bridge with Capitol Dome and Lake

Thanks to Thad and Rick and Nat and everyone else involved in restoring OlyBlog. I don't know the specific details, but it seems like the new hosting situation is stable! Yay! I encourage people to use OlyBlog to communicate about matters of importance to them, and especially matters that are unrepresented, under-represented, or misrepresented within the mainstream media structure. Alternative media can be an important and effective tool for communicating about the problems in the world. It can also be a good venue for suggesting solutions...

On that note, please take care, and enjoy the weather. Here's another photo from yesterday:

Log Truck Descending 4th Ave Bridge in Olympia Washington with Capitol Lake and Dome
Log Truck Descending 4th Ave Bridge in Olympia Washington with Capitol Lake and Dome
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[Added July 17, 2010:

These logs might be on their way to the Port of Olympia, which, despite the objections of environmentalists who care about the harmful nature of the enterprise, has a public-private business relationship with the Weyerhauser company for a log export facility.]


This comment was just left on my website Peace is Possible:

Anonymous said...

Dear bearded cartoon character,
Can you please keep your light-weight "philosphy" off of Olyblog? If you have any of your own writings, we'd be happy to see them, instead of your tired retreads and copy-and-paste collages.

Cartoon character? "Light-weight" philosophy?

Not very nice! Pretty mean actually. And sad.

Drupal MiniCamp?

Anybody interested in going to the Seattle Drupal MiniCamp on Saturday? (Drupal is the software that runs OlyBlog, among other things.)

Blogging and Lobbying

From the Olympian: State regulators ask: Can blogging be lobbying?

By CURT WOODWARD | Associated Press Writer • Published November 22, 2008

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Blogger beware? State regulators are wondering whether online political activism amounts to lobbying, which could force Web-based activists to file public reports detailing their finances.

This is a good article that delves into some of the specific concerns of various stake-holders in the lobbyist disclosure issue.

I have difficulty imagining how this would possibly apply, considering, as mentioned in the article, that newspaper editors who write opinion editorials are not subject to PDC (Public Disclosure Commission) regulation.

Also, I have an even harder time imagining how any PDC regulation would apply to unpaid bloggers who work on a volunteer basis.

As mentioned in the article, lobbyists or lobbying organizations must meet a certain financial threshold before being required to disclose. And bloggers who fulfill some journalistic function would also be exempted (like newspaper writers) from disclosure requirements.

Hey. I would like it if newspaper writers were required to disclose.

Maybe full disclosure, for Internet based advocacy groups, for newspaper editorial writers, and maybe even for unpaid hobbyist bloggers, is not such a bad idea.

Speculating on the Identity of Anonymous Users

What do you think? Is it generally copacetic to speculate on the identity of anonymous users? Or is anonymity to be held in sacrosanctity? Are anonymous users responsible for not leaving clues that might allow others to identify them?

What should the rest of us do when anonymous users give clues to their identity? Should we just ignore it and give the desired anonymity its presumed respectful space?

Should anonymity be challenged? On what basis?

I understand that anonymity gives people who might not be able to contribute the opportunity to do so, that is, to more safely share their thoughts, opinions and ideas.

But, on another slant, anonymity can also allow for abuse - for example, harassment and attacks, for hurtful, harmful or destructive behavior - without normal consequences.

This is a major issue on the Internet. Should anonymous users be held to a different standard? For example, does the opinion of an anonymous user count for less?

What do you think? Is it okay to speculate on the identity of anonymous users? What's your opinion? And, why?

Comments on Comments

On The Media did a piece on internet comment threads.

There's been a bit of a backlash recently against the angry commenter on newspaper websites. Some are calling for newspapers to stop allowing comments sections all together. But what about democracy on the web? Bob, with the help of "This American Life"'s Ira Glass, ruminates on the dark side of the comments section.

Listen here:

I particularly like the part of this piece that describes how a new hierarchy is being created on the internet that favors those who can be the most ugly and abusive over the thoughtful and careful.


One of the changes I'm going to roll out today is the ability for folks to promote their own stuff to the front page (what I'm calling an "autonomous user"). This addresses one of the problems with the docent model ("Hey -- why didn't you guys promote my post!!"), allows people more control over the process, and takes the burden off of me. This system will rely heavily on trust, however. In order to make sure that contributors are promoting hyperlocal material that appeals to a wider audience, only those who have a track record of producing relevant content will have this ability. If you'd like to be able to self-promote, drop me a note. I'll also be keeping an eye out for folks that are blogging responsibly and adding this feature to their accounts.

A starting point of thoughts on online community

Because if I don't start, it won't happen.... Here's a huge batch of articles on online community:

These come from some folks who have run or are running fairly large online communities, some of which have been going for quite a long time.

The point being that I think OlyBlog as a community could stand to do some learning from these sources. (I almost jumped into the anonymity question but never did get my thoughts together.) After almost 10 years of web communities, there actually is some best practice available. :)

More to come, hopefully. I am notoriously lousy about following up on these sorts of vague big ideas, so no promises.

Is Anonymity Holding Olyblog Back?

Over the last year at least I've been contacted by many members of the Olympia community about OlyBlog. Some of them were current members of the blog and expressed that they don't like the atmosphere, that it is stifling to real community building. Some of them were former members of OlyBlog who walked away from active roles for the same reason: they were afraid to post their opinions for fear of some of the responses they would receive. Most of them were lurkers who never post a thing. Most of those lurkers expressed that they wanted to post things and wanted share their opinions with and hear the opinions of their neighbors, but they won't until they can be sure they won't be attacked for it. This has been expressed to me by a variety of people on the spectrum from downtown business owners to state workers to local politicians.

I immediately wanted to solve this problem, so I asked of them (sometimes they offered without my asking): What is something we could do about that? What can we change that would make you feel safe contributing to OlyBlog? Hands down the number one answer has been: Anonymity.

Learning to let go

This cartoon captures perfectly one of the reasons why comments get out of hand. I wish more people could say their piece, and then let it go.

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