Three students in Sydney are facing jail sentences for having shared mp3s on the web. A primary piece of evidence against them is the essay the student who started the filesharing site wrote for his information technology law course. The essay topic was “open source software licensing”. (via Fibreculture, where the discussion continues)

A few days ago, Shelley Powers got a phone call from the tax authorities: they’d read her blog and used statements she’d made there as (informal) evidence that she should be able to pay more than she was paying.

Because we always write the truth and nothing but the truth in term papers and blogs, don’t we?

9 thoughts on “beware

  1. Elin

    I’m having a hard time understanding why people think that what they write in their blogs won’t have (legal) consequences. Off-line, we donít always tell everybody the same story, and this way, there is much more ambiguity about why things were said, if it was said at all, and the actual context around it. But our audience is bigger online, and may include unexpected or maybe even unwelcome readers far into the future. It is a can of worms, I know, but I do believe that if you write it, you HAVE to accept that people will interpret it one way or the other. In this, there is a risk that someone will make a conclusion that may end up hurting you.

    Besides Ö arenít we supposed to write the truth in our academic papersÖ? Now Iím all confused:-)

  2. Jill

    Ah, but there’s truth and there’s truth. Look at a blog like Oblivio – do you believe every story there? That one he told last year, for instance, about finding photos of an ex-girlfriend on a porn site? Nah, that was fiction. Perhaps. Do you think that I really played the G minor concerto at full blast at Troldhaugen? Perhaps I just thought about it? Perhaps it never occurred to me as a possibility until years after I worked there – if I worked there – when I was writing that story? Do you think Kaycee Nicole should have had a phone call from the IRS, asking her to pay duty on all the gifts she received from “friends”? Should we assume that William Gibson does amphetamine because he’s described it so convincingly in his novels? Or that The Unknown are heroin addicts because they use their own names in a fiction? Maybe not.

    Academic papers are different, I’ll agree with that, and perhaps I shouldn’t have grouped them together with fiction and semi-fiction like that. There is, however, a good solid tradition of using thought experiments (Einstein..) and anecdotes and examples in academic literature in literature that aren’t true in the actual world. We do generally mark them as such though, rhetorically.

    And of course: if you blog, people will read it. Such is life.

  3. HÂkon Styri

    “Because we always write the truth and nothing but the truth in term papers and blogs, don’t we?”

    Probably not, but remember that term papers may be graded and blogs mey be read by people with no sense of humour.

    You should also note that many people regard written statements as more significant than oral statements. One issue regarding electronic communication is that the style often is quite oral, though the words and emoticons are in writing.

    Makes you think twice about employing a casual blogging style, doesn’t it?

  4. Jill

    I think that’s an important issue about blogs, HÂkon – they’re so changing and yes, closer to something oral than to the permanence of print. Hm.

  5. Francois Lachance

    There are some contexts where giving one’s word is a highly charged event. There are some cultures that value the spoken as witnessed above the written broken treaties…

    The truth function hinges on a certain performativity in interpreting the record. The skillful interpretations of various contexts of past productions lead to communicative care (and abandon) in various future situations.

    The oral/written distinction becomes moot when one considers the unit of the spell as the word. One great touchstone for cross-cultural considerations of the efficacy of glyphs and vocables is Jerome Rothenberg’s Technicians of the Sacred.

    If one knows one is handling fire by manipulating language, then one can be wary and aware.

  6. Creativity Machine

    Piracy and Privacy
    It was only a matter of time: a University of New South Wales student has been prosecuted for operating a website that distributed “pirated” music. I first heard about this on the fibreculture list, where people more knowledgeable than I about this stu…

  7. WeezBlog

    cluster sweet cluster
    Briefly, Beau is a legend in his own mind before returning to earth as he muses blog stardom. From the comments of that post Be careful what you ask for. 🙂 I’ve got both kinds of blogs…the kind that’s mostly…

  8. Ununique

    Scary stuff
    This is scary. As this blog is quite private and has not a lot of readers (quite few, in fact), I can write pretty much what I want here.

    While there of course is a lot of things more I could’ve written about, there are also some things I write abou…

  9. Yes, Now

    Ten things I love about the internet
    1. Where else can you publish something that absolutely no one reads? 2. Email. 3. Community. The internet gives access to people, ideas, texts you’d never encounter if you were limited to your own private sphere. 4. Piracy. Music, films,…

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