Thursday, May 03, 2007

Cheek By Jowell*

Hot on the heels of Andrew Keen, it seems our Minister for Culture now also wants to 'civilise' the internet, by calling for British bloggers to stop being nasty to each other.

I'm already so sick of this government's apparent mistrust and loathing of the British people that I can't even really be bothered to get angry about this.

(When did you last hear Tony Blair say he was proud of the British people?** It almost makes me yearn for Margaret Thatcher, and I'm a woolly liberal.)

Among other things, Ms Jowell claims that until the blogosphere becomes a more civilised place, women won't 'feel comfortable' participating in it.

If she's under the impression that the blogosphere is a nasty place where women fear to tread, it implies she isn't terribly au fait with what actually goes on in here. Perhaps I'll invite her round to the Quinquireme for virtual tea and cupcakes on the poop deck with my female blogchums, and a nice chat about how it all really works.

It worked with Mary Dejevsky, after all.


* Sorry.

** This is a serious question, by the way. I don't really follow parliamentary politics, so I might have missed Tony saying he was proud of us, and I'd be very happy to be proved wrong.

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29 comments:

james henry said...

Eurgh, an internet where everyone feels 'comfortable'. The internet should be an exiting cyberpunkish realm, with viruses, and death worms and flame wars and vendettas and ninjas, and ninja flame war vendettas, all thinning the herd until only the fittest remain, braced for the coming Infopocalypse!

*gets hiccups*

patroclus said...

Yes, alright - just as long as the ninja death worm's terrible rampage doesn't interfere with my virtual tea and cupcakes.

james henry said...

And on a more serious note, it's not the politicians' responsibility to make the world of blogging a more civilised place to be.

It's ours.

GreatSheElephant said...

oh dear. I was going to say that I'm actually in favour of people being nicer to each other online and off but then I read James's comment and am laughing too much so won't.

Or maybe I will. One of the boards I frequent has a shadow hate board and to be honest it has quite put me off free speech.

I'm going all Andrew Keen all of a sudden. *goes for a sit down*

patroclus said...

Odd that you should say that, GSE, as one of the ninja death boards that James frequents has a shadow 'polite' board, which is quite sweet.

I guess it's just the same as in real life - do as you would be done by, and avoid places you don't like. I'd rather have a slightly dangerous but ultimately self-regulating blogosphere than the one that our politicians seem to want, where everything is moderated to death and people have to use their real names.

Annie Rhiannon said...

I'm not sure what exactly they feel needs to be moderated anyway. Rather disappointingly, I've never seen much hatin' going on, at least, not anywhere on my blogroll, and I've got links to quite a wide variety of bloggers — men, women, horses, the lot.

In fact, I think the only flaming I've seen in the 30 or so blogs that I link to was directed at LC. And he, like, totally deserves it.

rivergirlie said...

i bet you can think of some english/french near homophones that may cause confusion. if so, please share - i'm working on pastis and pasties at the moment

LC said...

ur all GHEY!!!!lol

Urban Chick said...

i wonder whether in the blogosphere she is hanging out?

i've feeling rather bileous of late and could quite fancy some uncivilised online debating

clearly i am only hanging out with the nice guys...

patroclus said...

Annie: Me neither, and I like it like that.

UC: I get the impression she barely knows what the blogosphere is, let alone hangs out in it. But if she does, it's probably round at the political blogs, which politicians seem to think are the only blogs in existence. A bit like Guardian journalists thinking CiF is the only 'blog' in existence.

I like it here where everyone is nice to each other, but I support people's right to make vicious ad hominem attacks on each other in other online places if that's what they want to do.

And as Tessa Jowell rightly pointed out, it's no different from all the jeering and mudslinging that seems to go on in the House of Commons every single day. Evidently our politicians aren't really into leading by example.

Rivergirlie: Hm, I like this challenge. I shall have a think and come back to you.

Billy said...

I'm very civilised on the internets, but that's because I like it not cuz the government told me.

I don't yearn for Thatcher.

Annie Rhiannon said...

Bloody hell Patroclus, I've just been reading through all that Mary Whatsherame stuff and read that you "get up at between 3.30am and 5.30am most days".

What time does one have to go to bed to get up at 3.30am?!

And I only ever say "one" on this blog and Tim's, btw.

patroclus said...

Billy: I don't really yearn for Thatcher. But I wouldn't mind Tony saying he was proud of us once in a while, rather than constantly treating us as wayward idiot reprobates who need his guidance on how to cross the road.

Annie: Er, I usually go to bed about 9.30pm. The 3.30am starts have stopped now I've finished my MA, so I tend to get up between 5 and 6 these days. I don't drink, smoke, cook or watch TV, so that doesn't leave much to do of an evening that can't be done in bed, frankly.

Annie said...

'I have felt two pens' - eh? Oh!

Cannot bear to click through to Tessa Jowell. I just know it will make me grind my teeth.

Arabella said...

Ms Jowell worries that the blogging world is too nasty/scary a place for women to feel comfortable inhabiting? F*#!, has she been outside recently?

Betty said...

Most bloggers are relatively civilised in their dealings with each other compared to people on other areas of the internet - perhaps it's down to the fact that most of us are a bit older and have learned (without the aid of Government advice, even!) how to "behave" with each other.

On the other hand - perhaps it's because we're all really repressed. Maybe we should all have a massive fight in the car park outside Morrison's in Erith to clear the air (with a personal invitation to Tessa Jowell to come "tooled up").

Sean McManus said...

How long will our government continue to patronise women? They seem to have some 1820s stereotype of a feeble woman who would faint at the sight of rude words on a screen. Frankly, any communication medium that Tessa Jowell is too scared to participate in is a better medium for that.

DavetheF said...

It sounds like a first gambit in an attempt to control blogspace. They can't stand the idea of people saying whatever they want -- andf publishing it.

violetforthemoment said...

Sean beat me to it. This idea that everyone has the right to have the world made into their squishy fluffy safe and inoffensive playpen is horse poop, as is the idea that women want to have the nasty masculine edges rounded off everything and replaced with dull old respectful consensus. Or yoga or something. If someone's an arsehole it's pretty easy to ignore or avoid them online, just like it's easy to turn the TV over whe Jimmy Carr appears.

Valerie said...

"I like it here where everyone is nice to each other, but I support people's right to make vicious ad hominem attacks on each other in other online places if that's what they want to do."

Hear, hear!

And I've been on the Internet (in its various incarnations) for 25 years, and I am definitely female, and I am comfortable here. Come on, this place is huge! The blogosphere has more humans that she can possibly meet in her entire lifetime — why doesn't she just do as she does in Real Life (TM) and hang out with the people she likes and not with the ones who yell at her?

Man, some people. Talk about the nanny state. The nanny state of consciousness, apparently...

Tim Footman said...

I think an ideal internet for Tessa Jowell would mean that only she and Tony Blair have e-mail accounts, and they just send messages to each other saying how great they both are, like a paticularly dull game of Pong.

Oh, and Peter Mandelson can watch.

Tim Footman said...

(That's a much better post title than mine, btw.)

clodhopper said...

They can civilise the internet when they've finished civilising Iraq.

patroclus said...

Annie: It will make you grind your teeth and clench your fists and cause a red mist to descend and terrible angry thoughts to form in your mind, until the next thing you know you've ignited The Third Awesome Ninja Death Worm Flame War. On which basis I suggest you read it immediately.

Sean/Violet: Some women may be wary of going online, while some others may (and clearly do) love it. The same for men, I suppose. It's the tendency to generalise about what 'women' as a whole think about anything that really, really annoys me.

DaveF: According to Tessa Jowell, it's no longer blogspace, it's 'ourspace'. Apparently in the same way that municipal parks are 'ourspace'. Er, no. Municipal parks belong to the government, and the government sets out laws for what is and is not allowed to happen in them. (No dancing to repetitive beats, for a start, for anyone who remembers the Castlemorton Common episode). But 'ourspace' isn't *in* Britain - most blogs are hosted outside the UK, so the government is going to have a hard time dictating what happens in here.

Valerie: I know, some people are really using this whole Kathy Sierra thing as an excuse to try to sanitise the whole internet. David Smith said in his Observer article (possibly indirectly quoting A. Keen) that anarchy on the internet came to its logical conclusion when someone hanged himself in front of his webcam while other people watched online. Which is very sad, but how many people have been prevented from committing suicide by finding support from people on chat forums, blogs, social networks, etc.?

Tim: I can imagine that Peter Mandelson would enjoy a bit of packet sniffing. And I blatantly stole my title idea from you, for which I'm feeling terribly guilty.

Arabella/Clodhopper: Quite.

Betty: That seems to me to be the best solution. I wonder what she would come 'tooled up' with.

Hannah said...

I yearn for Thatcher, but then I now live in a country governed by smug Nationalists. *Cries*

Charles Frith said...

I'm usually quite civilised until I slip into identity 2.0 Then I'm quite mean apparently.

Justine said...

hello there :)

sounds like somebody flamed her and now she is indignant about it :)

i get the impression there are at least as many women online and blogging as men - if not more? did she know something about the proportion of men and women on the internet - where would she have gotten that kind of info from?

patroclus said...

Hi Justine!

In the US, 46% of people who claimed to have a blog last year were female.

Also in the US, the number of women online has overtaken the number of men, and may have done so quite some time ago.

So I don't know what Tessa Jowell is on about, and probably neither does she.

wolfie said...

Tessa Jowell's attitude is symptomatic of why Labour got hammered in the Scottish and Welsh elections- they're divorced from reality, and still haven't realised that we can identify when they tell lies. Careerists the lot of them, like Jowell, not a conviction politician in sight. Hannah- better a smug Alec Salmond than an inarticulate boor (McConnell).