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Virginia Blogging Summit
Posted by: Jon Henke on Saturday, August 27, 2005

I've just gotten back from Charlottesville, VA where I attended the Sorensen Institute Summit on Blogging and Democracy in the Commonwealth. It was fascinating, of course, to meet other bloggers with whom I've corresponded, of whom I've heard, and whose blogs I've read. (really, we ought to do that more often, but less formally)

It's a good thing that the bloggers were personally interesting, though, because the official discussion tended towards the banal. Inter alia, we discussed potential (and actual) legislative regulation of blogging, and a blogger code of ethics. I acquitted myself as I usually do in person: by reminding myself again why I'd rather write than speak.

To the discussions, though...

For starters, I won't waste my time trying to justify a press exemption for bloggers. I'm a private citizen with an opinion about politics. If the legislature passes a bill restricting that speech, bloggers will issue Andrew Jackson's challenge: they have made their decision, "now let them enforce it." It can't be done.

In any event, I think it unlikely that politicians would be keen to get on the wrong side of bloggers. You don't mess with people who buy ink by the barrel, and you probably shouldn't mess with people who buy pixels by the gigabyte.

As an academic exercise, I suppose it might be interesting to formulate some ideal Blogger Code of Ethics. It would be a purely academic exercise, though, because there is simply no way to impose or enforce it. Nor would the adoption of such a code of ethics actually make a blogger more likely to be ethical. There is no distinction between a bloggers code of ethics and an individuals code of ethics. If I'm an intellectually honest individual, I'll be an intellectually honest blogger. If not, I won't. It's really that simple.

Some of the bloggers seemed a bit upset that many of us don't think we need to formalize a "code of ethics". Really, I'm not sure why. I've managed to make it 30 years so far without writing down my formal code of ethics. I'm certainly not going to do it so I can petition the legislature for the right to speak freely.

Ultimately, the quality of a bloggers ideas are more important than the content of his character. However, if such a thing is important, I'll endorse Ninja-Bear's idea: "Don't Lie, Cheat, or Steal". I'd hope that our readers believe that of the three of us already.


Other bloggers already posting about the conference:

Waldo Jaquith:


One Man's Trash


Bacon's Rebellion:


Commonwealth Conservative:


Raising Kaine:


A good time, I believe, was had by all. It was particularly good to meet Shaun Kenney and Rick Sincere—both of whom I've corresponded with often—and WaPo reporter Mike Schear, a fellow Richmonder. Unfortunately, I didn't have as much time as I'd have liked to talk to many of the bloggers, but the summit organizers thoughtfully put together a name/email list, so hopefully bloggers will feel comfortable making further contact.

In any event, I'm on vacation for the next week and heading down to Georgia. (and finally meeting McQ!) I may check in to the blog, but it certainly won't be a priority. Till then...
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I enjoyed meeting you yesterday, and I share your impressions of the conference.

What I came away with is the opinion that there is more conversation to be had on many subjects, but that this conference was a good first step.

At any rate, thanks for coming yesterday. The response was phenomenal, I thought.
Written By: John Behan
Good to meet you!
Written By: Waldo Jaquith
It was my pleasure to meet both of you. (and I’m glad I caught these comments before I hit the road) I really hope we can organize another blogger gathering - sooner, rather than later. Touchy as the situation could become, I think it would be useful to have a gathering devoted to a discussion of politics—or, at least, our role in political discourse—as well as the actual practice of blogging/the blogosphere.

I’d also be interested to hear ideas on, for lack of a better phrase, a good business model for political activism in the blogosphere; the elusive Next Step.

Failing that, of course, Waldo can always regale us with more stories about executing elephants and slaughtering turkeys. I know that goes well with dinner. :)
Written By: Jon Henke
Man, I wish I could have made it to dinner afterward.
Written By: John Behan
Waldo can always regale us with more stories about executing elephants and slaughtering turkeys.

Jeez, a certain theme developed there, didn’t it? I hadn’t realized that. :)
Written By: Waldo Jaquith

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