Dave Winer and the integrity of Bloggers

I caught roughly the last third of the session Dave Winer held last night at Harvard (also documented here, here, here, and here).
It was a really good session, with some interesting people and conversation. A couple things were quite apparent:
1. As Steven Johnson pointed out today, the blogging community is incredibly precocious and self-aware. There’s a very clear belief in the importance of the movement and its power to change things.
2. Only two women in the audience out of about 35 total participants.
One of the more interesting threads of discussion revolved around questions of integrity and the obligations of the blogger to his audience. Dave pressed Dan Bricklin on the unwritten rules Dan uses to filter what he writes about on his weblog.
What struck me most about the exchange were the radically different ways people perceived their weblogs. Dave seemed to see blogging almost as a professional obligation — to him, integrity meant a coherent, rational system of deciding what to post, and what to filter. In this scheme, bloggers must be conscious of their audience, and blog in such a way that exposes their process and their rules.
Dan, on the other hand, seemed to view blogging as a much more personal thing — that he posts when he has time, as much for himself as for anyone else, and in a way that is decidedly unprofessional (which is not meant here in its usual, pejorative sense — merely that he doesn’t sense a great obligation). This different sense of obligation translates to a very different interpretation of integrity; where Dave thinks it means “not whole,” Dan thinks it means “not false.”
Which brings us to one of the great things about the web. Both can coexist, and people will decide who they want to read for themselves. So far, I probably fall on the unprofessional end of things, in part because my occupation requires a certain level of circumspection, and probably also because I haven’t yet made a consistent habit of it.
Anyway, last night’s session was interesting — thanks to Dave for holding the discussion.

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