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BlogHer Coverage 5: Standing Room Only
Monday, 2005 August 1 - 3:59 pm
This is about the breakout session on identity-blogging.

Saturday 1:45 p.m.
How To Get Naked
It's standing room only. On the panel we have Koan Bremmer, Ronni Bennett, and Heather Armstrong. Koan is a transgender blogger, and she blogs openly about her transformation experience. Ronni blogs about aging and ageism. Heather, well, we all know Heather.

Our moderator is the lovely Jory Des Jardins.

The discussion I really wanted to hear was, what do other people think about "identity blogging" (in RKO parlance, "wet and dirty") and being "out there"? What do people think about risks versus benefits of doing this? I'm enormously pleased that this is going to be the focus of the discussion, and we jump in right away.

There's a lot of talk about benefits, all of which resonate deeply with me.
  • Being an open identity blogger can make your blog into a group therapy session with your readers, a place to farm for support and sympathy when you're down.
  • By being honest about what you're going through, you can in turn help your readers who might be feeling the same thing.
  • If you confess your secrets to the Internet, they lose their power to hurt you. (This was a big thing for me... I used to be terrified that people would find out I was Internet dating.)
There's a bit of fear expressed about the risks. If you are too open, you can risk hurting people with your words. This is a valid concern, and people respect the fact that you have to be cautious about what you say or how you say it. A useful guideline is expressed: when you write your blog, imagine the worst case scenario of someone discovering it and reading it, and edit yourself accordingly.

Some seem to be worried that you might put your safety, and the safety of your loved ones, at risk by exposing your lives to crazy Internet people. This is a fear that I strongly disagree with: that's one of those things where some anecdotal incident gets talked about over and over, and the fear becomes overblown. ("I have a friend who knows someone whose kids were kidnapped and eaten because a Crazy Person tracked them down over the Internet. Also, aspartame causes lupus.")

I'd argue that the odds of a small-time blogger getting randomly blog-stalked is small (non-zero, sure, but small). The greater likelihood is that someone you already know will try to use information in your blog against you, as we've seen happen before. But that goes back to the point about being cautious about what you say. (This topic comes up again in the mommyblogging session. And then I would almost have to eat my words when I get home... more about that later.)

The game changes for big-time bloggers like Dooce; like any "celebrity", certain measures have to be taken to protect your address and location from being revealed. But that's not something unique to blogging; that has more to do with fame.

This is a terrific and inspiring session. I'm terribly impressed with the things Koan has to say. (Oh, I have to mention a funny bit where Ronni calls her a "he", drawing a bit of throat-clearing and eye-rolling.)

Though we run out of time (again, unfortunately), I still think this is the highlight of the whole conference.
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Posted by Ken in: bloggers


Comment #1 from lizditz (Guest)
2005 Aug 7 - 12:02 pm : #
How to Get Naked Blogher 2005

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