The British current affairs journalist Timothy Garton Ash tells us that he's been "mugged by the blogosphere". Writing on the Guardian Unlimited blog, the columnist explained :
It'staken me nearly a week to read all 353 comments posted on the Guardian blog in response to my column last week about cheese-eating surrender monkeys and fire-eating war junkies. I'm still reeling.
Having stopped reeling for long enough to add another post on Guardian Unlimited, Garton Ash has a couple of interesting suggestions to help find "nuggets in a cyberswamp."
He calls for readers to vote on the quality of comments, thereby creating a democratic mechanism for sorting the fairly worthless from the entirely worthless. This Democracy-Squared solution doesn't make sense. It's just double of the same. If we can trust the denizens of the blogosphere to post decent commentaries, then how can we trust them to vote responsibly for other people's commentaries?
The other thing he calls for is an end to the anonymity of commentators. Like Jaron Lanier, Garton Ash believes that anonymity undermines serious online debate, suggesting that it's mainly "jerks" who hide behind anonymous identities. What Garton Ash doesn't add is that the blogosphere attracts commentators who are defined by their anonymity, by their refusal to put their cultural cards on the table. Anonymity is the blogosphere; it is the opposite of real life.
Sorry, Tim, but this swamp can't be drained. The blogosphere is structurally flawed. It is inhabited by instantly forgettable people uttering instantly forgettable things (ie: the crowd). Best to stay out of the swamp entirely. Unless, of course, you lose your column at the Guardian and are forced to become a swamp dweller yourself.