Tuesday, March 27, 2007


That was the sound of my bubble.

I like to think of the Internet as a friendly, happy place where everyone is thrilled to take part. But I forget that the Internet is also a dark scary place where extremists of all kinds can find a friendly happy community for their dark and scary beliefs.

Let's back up.

I started to think about the user vs. visitor thing after Nina posted about it. I looked around and found Creating Passionate Users which is cute if a little more geared toward corporate things.

The last post on that site from Kathy Sierra really popped my bubble. POP.

Kathy has been systematically targeted with threats, misogynistic comments, and things that are just plain unconscionable. And it doesn't seem to stem so much from the things she says as who she is. A woman. A woman with a public persona.

I won't claim to know much about Kathy and who she is, but what has happened to her is disgusting. I wouldn't wish that sort of intimidation on my worst enemy. It really makes me angry. But I don't know what to do in the face of such raw misogynistic antagonism (I almost wrote terrorism. It amounts to the same thing.). The whole affair makes me want to use words that are unbecoming in my semi-professional blog.

So the bubble's popped. Kathy's terrible experience (and I expect it's not over yet for her) will serve as a reminder that not everyone sees the sunny side of an internet that lets you have a voice and converse with people near and far, likeminded and differentlyminded. Some use it as a place to scream, stab, and hurt.

I'm going to miss my bubble.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Hi Lynn, this is truly dreadful and makes you realise that maintaining anonymity online really might be the best way forward. I write three blogs - a research blog, my Department's PhD blog and another - completely anonymous blog about unrelated (unscary I might add - but personal) stuff. While I can't imagine much of what we write about on The Attic could engender such an extreme response, it's clear it only takes one nutcase. Incidentally, I have recently had to bring in a fairly draconian comments policy for The Attic - not because we'd had anything really sinister, but we had received a couple of weird or vaguely unacceptable comments and I could kind of foresee things going downhill if action wasn't taken (all comments from non-team members come to me first for moderation). Oh dear, I think my bubble may have been popped too. :S

(I keep meaning to say, good luck with the write-up, it sounds like you're making great progress. :))