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real life

Beginning

I’m not sure if this is wise.

It’s my 15th year on the ‘net, and my 20th year in a connected world. The on-line world is unrecognisable from the days when I lumbered onto the ‘net by dialling into Demon on a London number, with SLIPdial, from an Acorn Archimedes, at the blistering speed of 9600 baud.

Whilst many things have changed, and nearly all for the better (an un-metered 10Meg connection at home), the nastiness and vitriol of Usenet seems to have got even worse.

Past experiences on Usenet have made me cautious, and indeed dismissive of public expression of personal opinion on the Internet. The Internet is forever. An impulse expression lives on and on, to be searched and tagged and quoted and re-purposed. On-line vendettas are pursued beyond the socially acceptable norms; being threatened on-line is no less stressful than being threatened on the street. I’ve seen the true depths to which personal expression can sink, and I don’t want to be exposed to it again.

From a commercial point of view, I am responsible to my employer (to whom readers may ascribe my opinions, despite statements of my own independent thinking) to give them my best thinking and use that to competitive advantage. Where does musing on a concept in a blog turn into spilling the company’s secret?

So I’ve previously justified to myself why, on balance, I shouldn’t be blogging.

Why have I changed my mind? I’m not sure there’s one clear reason, but a few of them would be:

  • It’s professionally expected for someone in my role to blog; I don’t want people to draw a conclusion that I’m a luddite or a n00bie. Quite the reverse; my caution is because I was a n00b 20 years ago, and got flamed and threatened then.
  • The law understands the virtual world better, and can now extend its influence into the murkier depths (and members) of the on-line community. I can’t imagine how my local Constabulary would have even begun to understand the concept of Usenet in 1993.
  • I want to talk more with people thinking like me around the world. It’s great having real colleagues around the world to throw ideas around with, but the geography means a lot of travelling. I guess I expect people to use Google Alerts the way I do to seek out bloggers talking about things I’m interested in.

So hello. Again. I hope it’s more fun the second time round.

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