Profgrrrl (who yes, writes pseudonymously) has a really interesting post about blogging about personal things and the risk involved and what we get out of blogging openly like this rather than in a closed, friends-only LiveJournal community where new members would not be able to join in and share:

It just so happens that this community could only exist with the use of this very public technology. We all accept some level of risk when we put ourselves out there on the Web, and hopefully the benefits outweigh it. No good comes without risk. I often remind myself of this Ö if no one took the risk of saying ìI love youî first the world would be a much sadder place. Sometimes you get shot down. And sometimes you get reciprocity, which is a most wonderful thing. And so I take personal risks on my blog. I blog about challenges that Iíve faced and things that I feel or situations that confuse me. This blog has surprisingly ended up to be a pretty safe place for me to do these things. And each time Iíve blogged something really personal Iíve not only received the most wonderful, interesting, thoughtful and supportive comments, but also a lot of similarly wonderful email from people who arenít as comfortable putting themselves out there in the public sphere. I feel like Iím contributing to the community. I feel like Iím gaining from the community. If me taking a risk and putting myself out there a bit helps me and others feel a bit less alone, I think thatís a good thing.

The post is in response to a link from an academic gossip column (yes, mainstream media) to a post which is basically just a vent. I remember the post, it was really rather out of character for Profgrrrl, or at least for her blog. Profgrrrl calls the link “predatory”, which I find fascinating. I’ve written about how links are a currency, complete with a black market, but this is the opposite view, and just as valid, really. Here the mainstream, ad-financed media stands to gain hits by providing their readers with regular links to scandalous posts, but the authors of the scandalous posts don’t really gain anything. They get hits, sure, but (Profgrrrl suggests) they’re drive-by hits and rarely reciprocal readers who return and contribute to the community through comments or their own blogs.

What Profgrrrl objects to is being displayed out of context with no benefit to herself. When I link to her in this post, I write myself into a communal space with her; I write myself into her context, or her into mine. There’s a respect and a reciprocity involved. That doesn’t happen when Inside Higher Ed links to juicy academic blog posts. Interestingly, being taken out of context exactly what Sacco wrote that he feared.

Of course it’s also what those evil big media giants try to outlaw by making deep links illegal and only allowing links to the front page. We can’t protect ourselves from being seen out of context. And I don’t think we should. We should, however, consider what our links mean.

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