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Friday, April 11, 2003  
Thoughts on a dead man blogging

Meryl Yourish's interest in the Agonist has been questioned by Counterspin Central blogger Hesiod. He believes Meryl may have developed an interest in the escapades of Sean-Paul Kelley as a way to boost her popularity in the blogosphere.

MERYL'S FREEP: What's eating Meryl Yourish?

In the last week, she's logged no less that SIX posts on the Agonist/Plagiarism story.

You might even call it an obsession. She's been tracking Sean-Paul's declining hit count, and even goes so far as to politicize the responses to the Wired story.

It sounds to me that Meryl has a hit count problem of her own, and has decided to go after Agonist to generate some traffic to her own site. She freely publishes Agonist's statistics [because Sean-Paul opened them up] but doesn't allow anyone to view her own.

I have no problem with her doing the latter [I block access to my stats as well], provided she doesn't go after OTHER people on that issue, or use their open stats to make a point.

Open up your stats Meryl, so we can see if YOUR hits have been declining as well. I bet you got a nice SPIKE when you decided to take on Agonist, however.

I dealt with the Wired article previously on my blog, and will let that stand on it's own. But Meryl's obsession is, well. . .just plain weird.

I don't believe it is necessary for a person to have a mercenary reason to follow this history making incident with interest. As someone with a blog going on two weeks old, it is premature for me to even think about the number of visitors I get. If I did, I would break into tears and give up. (Monetary contributions? My FireWire port will be broken for a long time if I await funds from blogging to fix it.) Yet, I have also written about the Agonist scandal several times.

I am interested in it because it is about both my areas of education and experience, law and journalism. I know some people dismiss the latter concern under the claim blogging isn't journalism. However, blogging is closer to journalism than it is to anything else, in my opinion. The legal issue is what is to be done when bloggers plagiarize material. Hesiod's response is the matter is between Straftor, the victim, and Kelley. That is rarely true of legal issues. Most of the situations in which a conflict could arise don't because people have been forewarned before they act. Other instances don't occur because people with the same inclinations back away after learning of someone touching the flame and getting burned. As bloggers, we are all students of the Agonist scandal. I suspect at least one blogger with the same idea as Kelley has not acted on it because he learned about what happened to the Agonist.

In a follow-up post Hesiod says:

And, as Sean Paul noted, he and Stratfor have reached an amicable agreement on that point. Probably because while they were upset by his use of their proprietary material, they wound up getting a ton of positive publicity and made some money off of Agonist.

Maybe so. Maybe not. Our source for that information is Sean-Paul Kelley. I will wait to hear from Stratfor before accepting the alleged resolution as the truth. Furthermore, I doubt Stratfor would make money from subscriptions to it as a result of the Agonist scandal since Kelley was exposed as the war, and interest in it, wound down.

I think Meryl Yourish is close to bedrock in regard to the Agonist's conduct being inexcusable. Kelley is a dead man blogging now. I believe most of his visitors will gradually fade away.

But, I don't see any reason to give this incident a political spin. The important thing is a blogger with high name recognition, who represents the blogosphere in a sense, was caught plagiarizing. I would be saying the same things about a Right Wing blogger I am saying about the Agonist. Barry, of Alas, a Blog, who is so-o-o progressive he leaves me eating his dust, expresses a shared thought well.

I don't really see this as a left-right issue. Surely everyone is against plagiarism. I'd question anyone keeping the Agonist on their blogroll after this, and I think those blogs who are very interested in issues of blogging ethics, journalistic ethics, and academic ethics - or who have frequently linked to the Agonist - might want to talk about this.

I cliche that.

5:11 PM