If you blog under the cloak of anonymity, today is something of a day of reckoning. You have no right to keep your identity a secret. Not even if you’re an award-winning political blogger.
The identity of ‘Jack Night’, the detective constable behind the NightJack blog, has been revealed after a high court ruling, despite his protestations that doing so would put him at risk of disciplinary action.
In April this year ‘Jack’ received the Orwell Prize for his blog. This was the first time the prestigious literary prize had honoured a blog as part of its remit. He also signed a book deal – the holy grail for many bloggers – and was ‘resting’ his blog while he gotdown to the nitty-gritty of writing up. (In the latest twist the blog content has now been completely removed.)
So on the one hand, we are finally seeing the blogosphere gaining recognition as a ‘mature’ or mainstream literary activity, but with that too has arrived greater interest, even satire (with Radio 4’s Diary of an On-call Girl), greater scrutiny, and now, greater intrusion.
The ruling means that “blogging is a public activity with no right to anonymity”.
To date blogging has boomed, not only because of free, or very cheap, readily available, and increasingly user-friendly ‘blogware’, but also because it channels a different form of communication, one that is direct, personal and immediate, with the added benefit of instant audience feedback.
Blogs have enabled and encouraged web users to communicate their thoughts, often unrestricted, usually unmediated, and frequently anonymously, and that has been their making.
So if you are a blogger, will this change what you are writing or doing in any way? And do you think we, the public, need to know the identities of bloggers like Jack Night?
(Publisher, Yearbooks, A&C Black)