Going dark

Justice pinged me as soon as I got home today to point out what has happened to Kathy Sierra.  Take the time to read the whole of Kathy’s post.  If you’re not a subscriber to her blog, read the comments and you’ll see how passionate the community is for her knowledge and personality.

I usually don’t read the comments on blogs because you inevitably (at least on the A-List ones) get the run-off-at-the-mouth commenters who have nothing to add to the conversation, but feel that they want to be heard.  Taking it the level that Kathy has received is going from the down right absurd and irritating to criminal and frightening.  The perceived safety of the anonymity (again perceived) that can be afforded by the internet makes people think that they can say and do things with no more repercussions than a flaming.  As the web has matured, the user base has grown and the diversity of those users has increased, the acceptability of these acts has declined. 

Slowly the virtual world is growing to mirror the societal values of the real world.  I would suggest that we can’t expect it change over night, but we should push to try to make it happen.  Just as we can’t allow demeaning and destructive behaviour in our physical society, we can’t allow it to happen in the virtual one either.  Unlike the real world, there are no dedicated cops in the virtual one.  Instead we primarily rely on corporations who are using the web for financial gain or we rely on each other.  Neither of those two options have much bite.  Really, who hear would change the fibre of their personal behaviour because I told them that they should?  Yeah…just like I thought…nobody.  Some hosting company takes down your blog because it has questionable content?  Big deal. It is easy to find another company who wants to make a buck and will look the other way if they even bother to investigate your past.

I hope we’ve reached the peak of this kind of action on the web, but let’s face it, more and more the web is going to mimic real life.  In real life we have idiots by the droves.  I rarely read Scoble’s blog, but today I did and for a change he’s saying something that I believe in whole heartedly.  Like Scoble, I’m going dark until next Monday.

Kathy, I highly doubt you’re reading this as you have way more important things to be doing right now, but if you do by chance, this scotch is for you.  Thanks for everything you’ve done for developers around the world.  Thanks for what you’ve done for developer communities around the world.  Thanks for what you’ve taught me.  If I’m ever lucky enough to make your acquaintance, I’m buying…establishment, food and beverages of your choice.