How to Create a Life Stream Page on Your Blog, With Posterous

We’re really rocking the blog development lately.  Yesterday, I showed you how to point a domain to one of your blog categories.

Today, we’re going to create a life stream page, on your blog, using Posterous.

You can use the life stream page we’re about to create for just about anything.  You could send all of your life stream content there, autopost it to Twitter, Facebook, etc. and end up with a great, chronological and searchable archive of all of your content.  I have Twitter already integrated into Newsome.Org, via the widget in the right hand column, so I’m going to do something a little different.

I want to create a page where I can automatically upload and share impromptu iPhone photos, and maybe some other tidbits from time to time.  Notwithstanding the limited chops of the iPhone camera, I find a lot of iPhone photos really compelling, partially because of those limitations.  Plus I almost always have my iPhone with me.

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But, as part of my ongoing content consolidation and simplification project, I want my iPhone photo stream to be available here, as a Page.

Let’s get started.

Get a a Posterous Page

If you don’t already have a Posterous page, go sign up.  Learn how to use it– it’s about as easy as it could possibly be.  Theme your Posterous page to have the same look and feel as your blog.  You’ll probably have to start with a canned theme and then customize it to your liking.

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Make a Content Plan

Next, decide how you’re going to use your life stream page.  Posterous makes it really easy to autopost content to the social networks and other sites.  With a little work you can make Posterous your content hub and control panel.

Get Any Ancillary Apps You’ll Need

As noted, I want to use my page primarily as a place to upload and share impromptu iPhone photos.  A great way to do this is via the iPhone app PicPosterous (iTunes link).  It will make sharing iPhone photos via Posterous easy and almost completely automated.

I’m not crazy about the way it forces you do use albums, but it works OK.  I do like the fact that photos from each album are posted together.  I’ll just do an album for each day.  That seems burdensome, but it’s not really.  You’d need to name the photo anyway, and this means you only have to name the first one (e.g., 02/28/10) you post each day.  Any others can be sent directly to that album.

Embed into a Blog Page with an iFrame

Now to embed the Posterous page you have crated into your blog via an iFrame.

In WordPress

I use WordPress.  Here’s how you do it with my theme.  The process may differ slightly from theme to theme, but the basic concepts should be the same.

Create a new Page, and name it.  I called mine iStream.

If you have columns on your main blog pages, you’ll probably need to use a full width template for this page.  Many WordPress themes have this option for Pages.  If yours doesn’t, you’ll have to create a Page template.  Or change themes.

Add the iFrame code.  Here’s mine:

image

In Blogger

If you use Blogger, simply create a new Page, via Posting>Edit Pages>New Page, and include the iFrame code.  Be sure to select the Edit HTML tab first.

I don’t know that many, if any, Blogger templates have full width templates available for Pages.  If not, the resulting life stream Page may require horizontal scrolling, which is not good.  If I find (or someone provides in a comment) a solution for this, I’ll add it here.

The best bet if you really want a life stream page in Blogger might be to select a wide, one or two column template.

Add the New Page to Your Page Navigation

Once I created my new Page, I added it under the Media tab at the top of the Newsome.Org blog pages.

That’s all there is to it.  Looks great.  Easy to use.  Consolidated.

I like it.

Brother, Can You Spare a Word?

I’m working hard so you don’t have to.  If you like what I’m doing here at Newsome.Org, please spread the word via Retweets and links.

How to Point a Domain to a Blog Category

One of my long-time and oft-stated problems with all of the so-called social networks is the brand and attention dilution that occurs when content producers cast their content across numerous networks, sending readers on a wild goose chase as they try to keep up with everything.  While I’ve done a lot better than most when it comes to keeping my content centered around my web site (Newsome.Org), I too have been lured into spreading myself too thin, network-wise.

I’m going to fix that.  I am in the process of consolidating most of my content and much of my applications.  When all is said and done, I will be a power user of this blog and a small number of ancillary networks (maybe as few as two: Twitter and Facebook).  Additionally, I intend to shrink my cloud toolbox down to a manageable size.  More on that later.

Today I want to take the first step, which is to consolidate our music recommendation blog, which was previously hosted at Tumblr, into Newsome.Org.  Specifically, I want that content to be included here- under the Music category.  But I want to continue to use the cool and valuable top level domain (GoodSongs.Com) that I have been using for song recommendations.

Here’s how that can be done.

What You’ll Need

To have this need and to make this work, you’ll need a blog platform that includes categories, tags or some other naming convention that has a URL.  I use WordPress, and I have a Music category (see the menu at the top of the page).  The URL for that category is http://www.newsome.org/category/music.

You’ll also need a domain (or a sub-domain) separate from the one that you use for your blog, that you want to point to the category.  As noted above, I am going to cause GoodSongs.Com, which previously pointed to a custom domain at Tumblr, to be redirected to my Music category here.

Use a Redirect

One way to redirect a domain to a blog category is through URL redirection  or a refresh meta tag.  A redirection makes sense if you have a long-standing or popular site that you want to move, so you can preserve links and Google juice.  If you, like me, just want to use your domain as an alternate address for a blog category- or if you don’t have the technical chops or server access to do a redirection, web forwarding might be your solution.

Configure Web Forwarding

I use Network Solutions as my primary domain registrar.  Here’s how you configure your domain for web forwarding via Network Solutions.  The process is probably similar at other registrars, but you may need to explore the configuration dashboard and maybe the help files to find the right pages and settings.

From your primary Dashboard, select the Web Forwarding option.  At Network Solutions, it’s under the Domain Names tab at the top of the page.

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From the resulting page, select the domain you want to forward, then click on “Continue with Web Forwarding.”

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On the next screen, fill in the URL of the category in the blank.  Web masking won’t work if your URL is a directory or database, but that’s OK.  The purpose is to get the readers to the new location at the blog category page.  You can brand the forwarded domain from within the category.

It Might Cost a Little

I don’t know what other registrars charge for web forwarding.  Network Solutions charges $12.00 a year.  A buck a month doesn’t seem too bad for a little consolidation.  Particularly consolidation that can be accomplished (or changed) via a few clicks on a web page.  Simple is good.

Don’t Forget to Feed Your Feed

If you have an RSS feed at the domain you are forwarding to the blog category, don’t forget to update the feed once you make this change.

In my case, I already had an RSS feed for GoodSongs.Com, which I publish via Feedburner.  My WordPress theme creates a feed for each category, so all I had to do was change my feed location for GoodSongs.Com to the category feed.

From the main Feedburner dashboard for the applicable feed, select Edit Feed Details.

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Then replace the current “Original Feed” with your new one.

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That’s It

Once you’ve taken those simple steps, your domain will be forwarded to the blog category you selected.  Notice how GoodSongs.Com now points to the Music category here at Newsome.Org.

That’s step one in my consolidation and simplification process.  Stay tuned for more.

How to Set Up Email Subscriptions for Your Blog

image There are a lot of nerds out there- like me for example- who think that RSS and feed readers are the only way online information should be consumed.  We feel bad about being nerds, until we remember there is a whole class of uber-nerds, who think that not only information,  but every part of life, is derived from Twitter.  Or, God forbid, via Google Buzz(kill).  Just kidding, both of those guys are smart dudes and friends of mine, in addition to being uber-nerds.

But enough about those so-called social networks.

Because today I want to show you how to do a subscription service that someone with tan lines might actually use.  An email subscription.  You remember email, right?  That service that millions of people who either (a) have never heard of or (b) laugh hysterically at those who use Twitter use every day.  All day.

So let’s assume that (1) you’ve been outside in the past 48 hours and (2) you’d like to put together an email subscription service for your blog.

Step 1: Pick a Service

If you use Feedburner for your RSS feed, this is pretty easy.  Use Feedburner.  The other major choice is Feedblitz.  I used Feedblitz for a while, but its navigation structure makes Facebook’s byzantine navigation system seem downright GPS-like.  Plus, Feedblitz wants you to to (cover your ears webkidz) pay for its premium service.  So as a part of my forced march to WordPress and Blogger Custom Domains, I decided to take my email party back to Feedburner.

Step 2: Configuring Feedburner

Here’s how to configure your Feedburner account to permit and manage email subscriptions.

From your Feedburner dashboard, click on Publicize and then Email subscriptions.

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From the Subscription Management page, you can get code to embed a form or a link on your blog.  You can also enable a notification feature that will inform you when someone unsubscribes.  I wish Twitter had that feature.

Next, go to the Communications Preferences page.  From here, you can set up your email address and the subject line and message for your email confirmations.

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The next stop is the Email Branding page.  Here’s where you can really customize the look and feel of your emails.  You want the email to have the same branding, look and feel as your blog.  Note that you can create and upload a custom logo that will appear in your emails.

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Finally, you can set your time zone and preferred delivery time via the Delivery Options page.

Step 3: Displaying the Subscription Option on Your Blog

Once you have configured your email subscription service, you’ll need to make potential subscribers aware of it.  Many WordPress themes and Blogger templates are pre-configured to display email subscription information.  See the top of this blog (WordPress) or Err Bear Music (Blogger) for examples.

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Even if your theme or template doesn’t come pre-configured, you can easily add a subscription form or link, by adding the code that Feedburner provides on the Subscription Management page.

In addition to displaying the option on your blog, you should consider adding a link to your email signature, as those who would be most interested in an email subscription may not visit your blog, but do use and see email.

Step 4: Post as Normal and Let the Service Do the Work

After setting up your service and displaying a subscription form or link, your email subscribers will receive one email each day containing your blog posts for that day.

Here is a sample, from one of my recent subscription emails.

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Step 5: While You’re Thinking About It, Subscribe to Newsome.Org Via Email

By clicking here.

That’s it.  Let the emailing begin!

How to Use the New Newsome.Org

OK, our migration to WordPress, which was documented here, is complete, and I am very happy with the results.  In sum, I think the new look and the new functionality rocks.

But, as a blog partially targeted to grownups who don’t necessarily live in Google Reader or on Facebook or Twitter, we have a lot of readers who consume our content the old fashioned way.  By coming to the web site and clicking around.

I’ve had a few questions, so here’s a rundown on how to use the new layout.

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First, what hasn’t changed.  The newest content, across all Categories, is still located in the middle column, with the newest post at the top.  This has not changed- it was the same way in the prior layout.

Categories

But now, there are additional options, if you want to filter your content.  You can slice and dice content several ways.  First, by Category.  Note the horizontal menu between the red header and the gray line at the top of the page: Home, Tech, Music, Life, How to, etc.

Let’s say you want to read only our music content.  Click on that link in the top menu, and the center content will display only our music content, with the newest content at the top.  Same with Tech, Life and How to (our tech tutorials).  If you want to hear our podcasts, there’s the Podcast link.

Media, which has two sub-categories, is the place to go for photographs or videos.

Finally, there is an About page for those who want to know more about me and a Contact page, where you can send me an email or leave me a voice mail.

In sum, the default Home page has the same content as our old layout, but there are now topical options that display specific kinds of content.

More Ways to Find Good Stuff

Categories are great, but there are even more ways to drill down to the content you want.

See the box in the right hand column with tabs: Popular, Latest, Comments and Tags.  Popular shows the recent posts that have the most discussion (e.g., comments, reactions, etc.).  Latest shows a quick list of our latest posts.  Comments displays the most recent discussions that have occurred in comments to posts.  And finally, Tags are a clickable index where you can click on a topic and get only content about that topic.  If you are looking for something very specific, the Tags tab is the place to start.

You Can Read Content in a RSS Reader

Another option is to read our content in a feed reader, such as Google Reader.  We have our main RSS feed, which has the same form and content as always.  Additionally, there are Category-specific RSS feeds near the top of each Category page.

Or Via Email

If you’d rather avoid the whole web-business and don’t use a feed reader, there’s the option to have a single email delivered straight to your inbox every night, with all of our posts for that day included.  To subscribe by email, click on the link in the left column of the page.

What About the Sidebars?

There are a lot of extra goodies in the two side columns.

On the left hand side, we have a Menu of Newsome.Org content; links to my pages on the various social networks and photo and video sites; links to our excellent, hand-crafted Pandora radio stations (take a listen, you’ll like them); and hand-picked music and book recommendations (which are linked  to Amazon, where you can buy and download them or have them mailed with just a couple of clicks).

On the right hand side is the tabbed content box described above; a search box, where you can search Newsome.Org and see what others have recently searched for (that list is also clickable); a list of my latest Twitter posts; and some of my Flickr photos (click for the larger versions).

That’s it.

We’ve made it easy to find the content you’re looking for.  Enjoy.  Leave us a comment and tell us what you think!

Tossing the Disqus

Or how I overcame Disqus and Blogger and by sheer force of will installed the Disqus commenting system on my remotely hosted, FTP published, highly customized Blogger blog template.

disqus

Whew.  OK, listen up ’cause I’m gonna tell you a sad story.

I have been watching Disqus for months, and considering trying to install it here at Newsome.Org.  Since I have a remotely hosted, FTP published, highly customized blog template and a Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat (not really, but I’m punch drunk), both one of which I publish via Blogger, it was hard.  Now when I say it was hard, what I mean is that is was really, absolutely, just about impossibly, freaking hard.

So here’s how I did it.  All of this assumes you have registered at Disqus and have an account to use.  If this confuses you, move to Step 2 and skip Steps 1 and 3-7.

Step 1: Unsuccessfully Seek Help

First I tried the various options suggested by the Minimalist-inspired Disqus help pages.  I tried to manually upload my template, which I knew wouldn’t work.  I tried to manually add the code via these instructions.  No go.  I googled around looking for something to show me the way.  Nada.

Next I emailed Disqus to see if there was any other documentation I could look at.  I got a prompt response, telling me I should use a different blog template, thereby simultaneously experiencing both an epic instance of the tail trying to wag the dog as well as another reminder that I’m not as cool as my friend Louis.  I know that, of course, but I generally blame it on age.  Whatever the half-life of cool is, I have to be 2-3 half lives older than him.  If Dave Winer had invented the internet back when I was a young man, I’d be Robert Scoble and Louis Gray combined, baby.  Of course if I’d had the internet as a kid, I’d also be degreeless, homeless and living under a bridge somewhere.  In fact, the only technology we had when I was a kid were tractors and the phone.  And both got me in lots of trouble lots of times.  Generally when I should have been walking those four snowy miles to and from school.  And all that.

Anyway, after respectfully passing on Disqus’s suggestion that I demolish my blog and rebuild it just so I could use their application and pulling my bruised ego together, I got to work.

Step 2: Drink Some Bourbon

Locate a bottle of bourbon.  Open it, take a big gulp.  Place it within easy reach of your keyboard.

Step 3: Add the Standard Disqus Header

Add the standard Disqus header right before the </body> tag:

<!– Begin Disqus Header–>
<script type=”text/javascript”>
//<![CDATA[
(function() {
var links = document.getElementsByTagName(‘a’);
var query = ‘?’;
for(var i = 0; i < links.length; i++) {
if(links[i].href.indexOf(‘#disqus_thread’) >= 0) {
query += ‘url’ + i + ‘=’ + encodeURIComponent(links[i].href) + ‘&’;
}
}
document.write(‘<script charset=”utf-8″ type=”text/javascript” src=”http://disqus.com/forums/myusername/get_num_replies.js&#8217; + query + ‘”></’ +

‘script>’);
})();
//]]>
</script>
<!– End Disqus Header->

Step 4: Create the New Comment Link

Here’s where I had to start figuring stuff out on my own.  I changed the code at the end of the blogPost <div> to:

<$BlogItemBody$>
<div class=”byline”>
Posted by <$BlogItemAuthorNickname$> @ <$BlogItemDateTime$> |
<a href=”<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>”>Permalink</a> |
<a href=”<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>”>Leave Comment</a>

I did it that way so it would show both a Permalink and an obvious “Leave a Comment” link.  Yes, they go to the same place, but I want to make it easy for people to find the place to write a comment.

Step 5: Display the Comment Count

In my “Discuss” links, I changed the code to:

Discuss:
<a class=”comment-link” href=”<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>#disqus_thread”>View Comments</a> |
<BlogItemCommentsEnabled><a class=”comment-link” href=”<$BlogItemPermalinkURL$>#comments”><$BlogItemCommentCount$> Pre-Disqus Comments</a></BlogItemCommentsEnabled> |
<a href=”
http://search.blogger.com/blogsearch?q=link:<$BlogItemPermalinkUrl$>” target=”_blank”>Inbound Links</a>
<br />

The <BlogItemCommentsEnabled>/Pre-Disqus Comments part was required to preserve my existing comments (see Step 6 below).

The only other change was to add the required #disqus_thread after the Permalink URL.

NOTE: This is before the <ItemPage> tag.  I want new commenters to use Disqus.

Step 6: Preserve Your Existing Comments

That got me up and running, with one gigantic problem.  I have lots and lots of existing comments, and inexplicably there doesn’t seem to be a ready-made way to import Blogger comments into Disqus.  Obviously, Disqus should spend some of that mad coin to write one.  I saw some roundabout ways that might work, but they were on the wrong side of the possible benefit – time required – likely result calculation.

So I needed to preserve my existing comments in place.

After some trial and horror, I ended up with this:

<ItemPage>
<BlogItemCommentsEnabled>
<a name=”comments”></a>
<h4><$BlogItemCommentCount$> Comment(s):</h4>

<BlogItemComments>
<a name=”<$BlogCommentNumber$>”></a>

<p class=”comment-body”>
<$BlogCommentBody$>
</p>

<p class=”comment-data”>
By <$BlogCommentAuthor$>, at
<a href=”#<$BlogCommentNumber$>”>
<$BlogCommentDateTime$></a>
<$BlogCommentDeleteIcon$>
<br />
**************************
</p>
</BlogItemCommen
ts
>

</BlogItemCommentsEnabled>
</p>

<div id=”disqus_thread”></div><script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://disqus.com/forums/newsome/embed.js&#8221;></script><noscript><a href=http://myusername.disqus.com/?url=ref>View the discussion thread.</a></noscript>
</div></div>
</ItemPage>

All of that brain damage does three things.  It displays my previous comments (recall the “Pre-Disqus Comments” code I added in Step 5).  It’s not ideal to have two Comments linkcounts, but you need to let people know those previous comments are still in place.  It removes (i.e., doesn’t contain) the code that creates the Blogger “Leave a Comment” link (because I want new commenters to use Disqus).  And it displays the Disqus comment box and comments underneath the previous comments.

NOTE:  All of this is within the <ItemPage> tags, because we only want the comments and the Disqus comment box to appear on the item pages, which are sometimes referred to as post pages.  Or, in the case of uninspired writing, ghost towns.

Step 7: Update Your Blog Via Blogger

After updating my blog, which takes forever (come on Blogger, please get a handle on the disintegrating Blogger/FTP experience), I have Disqus comments, while preserving my previous comments.

If needed, repeat Step 2.

So there you have it.  I hope this is helpful to someone.

Now, why not leave a comment and reward an old, un-cool man’s effort!

Drinking from a Fire Hose: In Defense of RSS

There’s lots of talk today about how RSS is dead, and whatnot.  Let me set things straight.

firehoseFirst of all, as a practical matter, RSS has never been alive.  Ask anyone other than a hard core geek (like me) what RSS is and they won’t have any earthly idea.  RSS is probably the most useful tool on the internet, but regular people don’t use it.  Why?  Because no one has figured out how to make money pushing RSS feeds, and so the informal brotherhood of mercenary content producers (e.g., old media and big new media) don’t embrace it.  In fact, they really don’t want you to use it.  They’d rather force you to their web sites where they can serve those ads you never click on, but that advertisers still pay for.

It’s the desire for money once again screwing up something beautiful.  The environment, professional sports, our computers, etc.

This conspiracy to kill RSS is just one more attempt to prolong the death of an antiquated system.  It’s the same sort of battle the record label cartel is waging against the digital distribution of music.  In the case of RSS, the system they are desperately trying to save is the one in which the provider selects and aggregates content, either on paper or a website, and the consumer accesses that content at the provider’s place.  Where the experience is tightly controlled, complete with ads, etc.  Under the new system, which will be much better for the consumer once it matures a little, the consumer selects both the content and the package, and then accesses it wherever he or she wants: internet browser, phone, RSS reader, Facebook, etc.  Of those choices, the RSS reader is currently the best choice, by far.

Why?

It is easy to use.  It’s free.  It has archival and search features. You can organize it any way you want.  There are tons of ways to slice, dice and organize your feeds.  Only the fishy smelling partial feeds used as bait by those trying to keep control of the experience detract from what would otherwise be a nearly perfect experience.

A perfect experience that the brotherhood is trying to ignore and the attention deficient bloggerati are trying to replace.

Many are boldly stating that, while simultaneously saving the entire world, Twitter is the best way to get our news in 2009.  There’s a lot wrong with that argument, but I’ll settle for three gigantic and obvious flaws:

1. Twitter is nothing more than a shared partial RSS feed.  Other than a headline, every bit of the content one consumes via Twitter is located elsewhere.    Someone tosses you a scrap, but to get the meat, you have to take a walk- usually right back to one of the brotherhood’s sites.  If you don’t think this has something to do with old media’s love affair with Twitter, you’re not watching closely.

2. Twitter has no meaningful archival value.  The ability to save a big pile of “Favorites” takes us back at least a decade, to the era of chaotic browser bookmarks.  Nobody, other than the deeply Twitter-addicted, sits in front of his or her computer all day staring at Twitter, which means that if you aren’t staring at the screen when something happens, that something will soon drift away on a river of quotes, links, self-promotion and spam.  If you have any meaningful number of Twitter follows, that breaking news story that Robert Scoble talks about will be buried in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.  Meanwhile, your RSS feeds wait patiently for you in Google Reader, nestled in topical folders (paging Evernote) and ready to be read by you, on your timetable.

3. Twitter’s search capabilities are rudimentary at best.  You can search your feeds via Google Reader (and no doubt other feed readers) in just about any manner you can think of.

Now, about that real time thing.  I have complained loud and long that RSS needs to be faster.  But when I talk about slow, I’m talking hours.  The difference between two hours and 15 minutes is one thing.  The difference between 15 minutes and 5 minutes is another.

And about this single criteria speed assumption. . .

Why are people assuming that faster is always the goal?  That more is better?  I don’t know about you, but I’m not really in a race to find out some piece of news before anyone else.  If you’re a gossip hound and you get your news from any online source, you’ll have plenty of time to blab to those who still wait for the TV news or morning paper.  And if you’re just someone who wants to stay informed, why do you need instant?  And if you demand instant, what price are you paying in terms of the experience?

It’s like skipping the movie to watch the credits, in fast forward.  Maybe it saves you a little time, but at great detriment to the experience.

Once again, there are way too many people drinking the Twitter Kool-Aid- apparently from a fire hose.

If RSS is really dead, it’s the brotherhood that killed it, not Twitter or any other flavor of the week.  People need to wake up and realize before it’s too late that RSS is the best thing going.  It is the single best way for users to take maximum control of the content and presentation of their news, simply because the man doesn’t own RSS.  The people do.

The man doesn’t like RSS because it’s disruptive of the establishment.  We can kill it, but if we do we’ll be sorry.

So what’s it going to be, the man or the people?

Is It Time for Anonymous Bloggers to Cowboy Up?

I’ve been trying hard not to comment about the ridiculous Skankgate business.  But today my resolve was broken by the final straw.

cowboyupHere’s the background as I understand it.  Some anonymous blogger calls some model a skank (among many other things), the alleged skank considers suing said anonymous blogger and subpoenas Google (who hosted said blogger’s blog for free) for said blogger’s particulars.  Google notifies said anonymous blogger of the subpoena to allow said anonymous blogger to challenge the subpoena, which said anonymous blogger does and fails.  Under court order, Google provides said anonymous blogger’s name to the alleged skank.

Then, rather than defend the alleged skank’s claim, either under some truth as a defense theory, by playing the much misunderstood First Amendment card or otherwise, the no-longer anonymous blogger decides to sue Google for $15 million.

Are you kidding me?

Read carefully.  It’s not the person who was called a skank who’s suing Google.  It’s the person who said it, somehow claiming that Google should have ignored the subpoena in the name of preserving that person’s ability to say seemingly anything behind a self-granted cloak of anonymity.  It’s like the schoolyard bully suing a teacher for pulling him off a weakling.  In other words, it’s backwards.  And illogical.

Some seem to be confusing anonymity with immunity.  Some might say this suit is some combination of offense as a good defense, a bad aim and a money grab.

My issue is not the truth or untruth of what was said.  Who cares- there are laws to deal with that.  My issue is with someone who wants to make all sorts of allegations about someone else, but is unwilling to stand up and say “yeah, I said it.”  And it’s not like this situation involved a single skank reference amid scads of other content and opinion.  According to a  report at Wired, the no-longer anonymous blogger:

published only five posts, all devoted to attacking [the alleged skank], a 37-year-old who has reportedly modeled for Australian Vogue, Georgio Armani and Versace. In the posts, [the alleged skank] was called a “psychotic, lying, whoring . . . skank” and an “old hag,” and was depicted as a desperate “fortysomething” who was past her prime.

As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t want to take credit for it, then don’t cross any legal lines when you crap all over someone.  I have the same respect for anonymous bloggers who attack people as I do for the those who write on bathroom walls.  That sort of thing makes Twitter seem like the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Robert X. Cringely notes in a PCWorld article that “if anonymous speech on the Internet is no longer anonymous, some people will simply stop speaking.” To which I and the rest of the sane world say “so freaking what?”  The mathematical value of some anonymous, tossed-up Blogger blog or some scathing anonymous blog comment is very close to zero.

And, again, no one is saying you can’t be anonymous- the hair trigger First Amendment police tend to get confused about this.  Even the generally reliable Techdirt seems to be misinterpreting the right of free speech as an absolute right to be anonymous, which it is not (though Techdirt did come down on the side of logic with respect to the suit against Google).  If you want to write anonymously, no one can or should stop you, and the very legitimate protection of anonymous speech requires scrutiny before removing the cloak of anonymity.  But if you defame someone, you can’t simply hide behind your self-granted anonymity.  To argue otherwise is to turn the law- and common sense- on its head.

Privacy expert  Dan Solove says:

The Internet shouldn’t mean that people have unbridled freedom to do things they wouldn’t do before without repercussions. We have an unprecedented power to broadcast something to the entire world. Never before in history have you had the power to do this without the aid of the mainstream media.

An interesting footnote.  Upon learning of the no-longer anonymous blogger’s identity, the alleged skank says, “I just dialed her up. I said no more lawyers, it’s OK. I forgive you.”

I say if you want to talk trash about people, cowboy up and say it to their face.