Monday, April 09, 2007

Sullivan: O'Reilly is not our class, dear

Andrew Sullivan is a bright guy, but he's not nearly as bright as he fancies himself. I have to defend the New York Times pace Sullivan, even if it's a pretty minor point.

Sullivan got his knickerbockers in a bunch because the Times cited some true Internet NOBODY who had the temerity to suggest that people on the Internet observe some rules of civility, some of which may not be obvious. Who is this Tim O'Reilly, anyway? Doesn't he know that Sullivan reigns in the blogosphere and, well, just really gets it?

Well, Tim O'Reilly is the founder of O'Reilly Media, a tech publishing powerhouse which sees itself, with some justification, as transforming the tech and communication worlds. He's one of the biggest organizers and supporters of the Open Source movement, one facet of which is the blogosphere itself. He's a widely read blogger. In short, he's an important source for a journalist who wants an informed opinion about cultural issues on the Internet.

When his readers pointed out to him that O'Reilly's opinion actually was news, Sullivan just got juvenile and sarcastic. Sullivan doesn't even bother to address O'Reilly's comments; he just treats him as unworthy to address because he doesn't meet some weird Andrewland requirement for blogosphere society credentials. In nearly every public arena where there is free conversation, there are also traditions, customs, rules, and taboos that dictate appropriate courtesy and respect, and which, yes, actually do make speech in practice more free.
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