Moderation

There has a been recent flurry of wings in the government with regards to blogs and the free flow of *dissenting* information, especially with regards to *sensitive* issues like race and religion. Blogs have come under the target mainly because they are on the Internet, they can be seen, and the fact that they are PERSONAL JOURNALS AND THEREFORE ARE RATHER OBVIOUSLY SUBJECTED TO PERSONAL OPINIONS AND BIASNESS seems to have missed all of them.

To that person who so happily wanted the blogs to “not blow their own trumpet” PLEASE NOTE THAT THESE BLOGS ARE OUR JOURNALS. WE ARE FREE TO WRITE WHATEVER WE WANT (With regards to our own personal space, I’ll come to politics and the like in a moment). If this includes blowing our own trumpet, so be it. You don’t like it, don’t read it.

Then there’s the disturbing news today regarding bloggers to be wary of what information they publish on the Internet. To me, it smacks of dubiousness and that the authorities are taking the easy way out.

While it is true that there are many sites that publish misinformation, what about the hundreds, if not thousands of blogs who complain about the government, and whose complaints are VALID? Is the government and the relevant authority simply going to shut them down for spreading slander? Are they going to do a “whoops! we pressed the wrong button” scenario? (The grammer mistakes in the previous sentence is deliberate).

While I agree with YAB Dato Seri Abdullah Badawi (may he outlive Najib) regarding that the information posted in websites and online portals must be correct, I feel that there should be a certain leeway when it comes to blogs and websites (online portals should ALWAYS make sure their info is up to date, no questions asked). In most cases, dropping the relevant authors and webmasters of the sites should suffice in asking them to check their information, or to remove comments.

The majority of bloggers in Malaysia are lifestyle blogs; they’re people who blog to talk to friends. The majority of us do not blog about politics except when it touches our lives, directly (in this instance).

So for all those who want to censor blogs, I’d say this.

Censor your brains first. UNDERSTAND before you speak. THINK before you utter.

I’m directing this especially to Najib and Rais, though I’d doubt they hear this.

Oh, and in case you guys haven’t noticed… Badawi’s PR skills are getting better, and that’s a good thing. As long as the action keeps up.

Edit: Tiara has given an excellent site for bloggers to refer to when it comes to writing on their blogs. Althought right now it’s in the US, you might still want to look at it here.

3 Responses

  1. Tiara August 2, 2006 / 11:51 AM

    I agree with your point, but just a few things.

    PERSONAL JOURNALS AND THEREFORE ARE RATHER OBVIOUSLY SUBJECTED TO PERSONAL OPINIONS AND BIASNESS

    Not necessarily. Blogs are not always personal, or a journal. They’re basically just websites updated regularly and displayed reverse-chronologically often with a feedback feature. Not all are personal. ED isn’t. Metafilter isn’t. Blogs are like books or newspapers or magazines; they can be about anything.

    Also I’m not sure if it’s entirely right to claim that just because the majority don’t do it that it has no influence. The most influential Malaysian blogs are political (or at least have political content). And how do we know that the “majority of bloggers in Malaysia are lifestyle blogs”? Has anyone done a poll?

    Websites can be anything. Portals are a type of website which contains sections and links leading to other subpages (e.g. Yahoo’s a portal which leads you to news, mail, maps, etc etc). Their concern is not content but rather access.

    “UNDERSTAND before you speak. THINK before you utter.”

    We need to do this with ourselves first if we want to have a leg to stand on. Right now we’re at an advantage in that we know more than they do about how this works, but we also must really UNDERSTAND how it works so that there is veracity to our claim, otherwise someone can call us out.

  2. Naoko Kensaku August 2, 2006 / 12:13 PM

    Point one taken.

    Point two was based on a quick survey of Malaysians I knew (like Bee and the others) and the links they have going to. The majority of bloggers I know are lifestyle bloggers, but point understood.

    *Sigh*

    It’s the third on that gives most of us the headaches. While I do agree with the government’s stance on a majority of the points they raise, a lot of it smacks of censorship.

    Need clarification though: Understand what works?

  3. Tiara August 2, 2006 / 1:05 PM

    Understand how the process of blogging works, basically. Heck, it wasn’t until very recently that personal journals were considered blogs – originally only article-based ones or link-based ones were considered blogs (with the journally types being “online diaries”).

    There are bloggers that have had major effect over corporations and businesses and maybe even governments (even if it’s a small one). We need to really understand the implications of what we write.

    Not to say censor anything, but just understand that there could be repeecussions – but also understand what our rights are, what we can do to protect ourselves. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a guidebook on blogger’s rights that’s worth reading…

    https://www.eff.org/bloggers/

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