Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blog Ethics

I'm sitting on my bed with Raindrop. Lizzie's petting Raindrop. Dave's standing in the doorway with Ishmael. Both the cats are getting stroked.

I'm not getting stroked. Lizzie's not getting stroked. Dave's not getting stroked. He's talking about his X coworker, who used to give him a stroke. "Some things never change," Dave says, beginning a story as he rubs Ishy's neck.

I was going to tell the story, which involves poop, a back room, and emails, but now I can't. Dave announces that "it's rude to share that with the public."

So you'll never know what the story was about, on the very off chance that perhaps X will a) log on to the internet and search out this blog, b) find and read it, and c) recognize himself. Do people ever recognize themselves when cast in that yellowish light of an alternate and not always flattering point of view?


But that hooks into another topic I wanted to discuss. I was going to save the topic for the blogspot venue but, what the hell. I'll unload it here. It has to do with blogging ethics.

I went to a poetry reading tonight. One of the fellow listeners said, as we exchanged blog addresses, that he never put poems he planned to send out for publication on his blog. "It doesn't seem ethically correct," he said. He might put a poem on his blog months, half a year, a year, after it's been published in print. "If someone's going to go to the trouble, these days, of publishing something in print, I think it's only fair," he said, to give them exclusivity.

What is ethical here? If I write in this blog, am I really publishing? And if so, isn't it self publishing? And does self publishing count?

Who's reading this? If I write about D's X coworker, am I being "unfair" to him if I paint him, as a dogowner, with a somewhat naive brush? Is that story about the back room and the bull mastiff his property and have I stolen it if I write about it here?

I began this entry by pointing out that I was not getting stroked. And I certainly don't feel stroked now. In fact, i feel somewhat attacked, or at the very least guilty, as if I've been caught eating someone else's cookies. And because I feel guilty, and low, and thus peevish, I want to take it out on someone, and who better than D?

"Oh," D says, back in the doorway, this time without the cat (they are wrestling and screaming, acting out our hidden aggressions against each other), "now you're going to write about me, aren't you? I'm going to get smeared in the blog."

You better believe it, buddy. Because if I can't write about the bull mastiff, the email and the back room poop, because that story -- which a minute ago you felt no compunction against sharing with me -- belongs to X, is the private property of X, even though you passed it to me and asked me to take a bite, then I'm going to write about you.

But now that you're out of the room, and Lizzie's packed off to bed, and Rain and Ish have bitten each other into a kind of weary truce -- a truce as ragged and balding as Rain's fur is getting -- and you've disappeared into the house somewhere, no doubt to brood over what I might be writing, I can't think of anything to fill that hole. No pithy stories pop into my head.

And it's no fun to wrestle myself.

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