Wednesday, October 12, 2005

To Blog or Not to Blog - Anonymous is the Question

Commander Salamander makes a good contribution to the discussion on anonymous blogging. Although most of the current milblog discussion centers around the OPSEC issues from deployed folks, he looks at how blogging can affect careers by responding to a Ralph Peters Navy Times article on writing in general.

While it's easy for Peters to discuss good intentions on the part of readers "...Time and again, I’ve found our best leaders frustrated by their subordinates’ unfounded conviction that an officer who wants to get promoted keeps his pen in his pocket (or his fingers off his keyboard)." We know that, especially if we're lucky enough to have served with those leaders. But how intentionally is he moving quickly beyond the recognition that this is a trait only found in "our best leaders?" But what about the mediocre and bad leaders? There are enough to go around. Far from having an unfounded conviction, I am occasionally reminded by experience that some men and women are without honor; petty, vindictive, and self promoting. If these types can succeed by facilitating your failure, they will. Why provide them documentation?

This is where anonymous blogging can contribute. If the goal is to truly advance discussion on the state of a community or practice (not be a whiners' club), it can be done anonymously. The things that are missing from the context are the opportunity to judge the author's credibilty based on verifiable credentials, and the author's ability to get credit for his ideas. The first is a genuine concern - but anonymity allows the idea to be judged solely on its own merit - not because it came from Captain Bigbrain. As for the second, well, if you want credit - don't publish anonymously, which is more important to you - advancing the idea or making sure you get credit (tangent to balance discussions here).

I'd also take issue with Peters' unsupported assertion that "The Internet and the print world aren’t adversaries. They’re mutually reinforcing. But print remains the main attack, with the Web a supporting axis of advance. Print articles posted on the Internet are still more widely and enduringly read than electronic originals." This sounds remarkably like the groan of a dying paradigm. (Like the CNO view in 1919 that while naval aviation might assume greater importance than it had in the past, the battleship would still remain the fleet’s main striking force) I tend to believe the opposite. If looking to survey serious research, I'll be on line on a University system or on the web. Printed material? I'll still use it because it's easy to read at the beach or by the pool.

Bottom line: (1) For an uncensored discussion - go anonymous.

On a slight tangent: As a retired CMC visiting an old command recently, seeing old "shipmates" I was reminded of the von Goethe quote
"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him."


Head back over to the Mudville open post


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