Feeding back

Sites like HollaBackBoston.com exist because new media is interactive. Without public discourse, we wouldn't have a site, a purpose, or an audience. We wouldn't be building a participatory community or have a side blog (um, this one) to further open the discussion.

So, to follow up from last week, we've been scanning our RSS readers and news sources for further thoughts. It's not as if this topic is overlooked. Almost every day, someone's mouthing off about audience and interactive content. So, we decided to post what are, in our opinion, the most interesting reads of the week, coming first from Salon.com, Gary Kamiya's The readers strike back.

Perhaps most applicable to our work is Kamiya's statement, "The fact is that anyone who posts anything on the Internet is opening himself or herself up to every conceivable response -- from thoughtful comments to irrelevant ramblings to savage personal attacks." We couldn't agree more, and it's one of the many reasons we believe many of our readers and submitters wish to remain anonymous. The whole point here is fighting back against harassment - not incurring more.

Novelist and former Salon columnist Ayelet Waldman is also quoted so aptly by Kamiya, "The entire blogosphere is a first draft." We're all just learning the ropes, trying to find our ways through new rules of engagement and play. It's only slightly inconvenient that every mistake we make is cataloged by Google along the way.

Kamiya goes on to talk about the immediacy of feedback.
"Now, in the glorious days of 'disintermediation,' when writing a letter or posting a blog is as easy as banging away on a keyboard for a few seconds and clicking 'Send,' that contract has been trashed. Formality? The context of online communication is more like being in your car in a traffic jam than sitting across a table from someone and having a talk -- and it's easy to flip somebody off through a rolled-up window."
While it's hard to argue with this logic, we like the immediacy of a "holla back". There are consequences for all actions - from yelling at someone in the street to writing a nasty email to some writer with whom you disagree - and the implications of that feedback, in our opinion, are vastly different and exist with different intent and purpose.

Kamiya also refers to New York Times writer David Carr's January 15 piece, 24-Hour Newspaper People. Among other topics, Carr addresses the relationships created online with people and the sense of community that results. But when these issues are raised, I always wonder: do people recognize the Internet's false intimacy, awkward sense of connectedness with strangers, and what does that do to our causes and movements? We certainly feel more connected about issues like street harassment because of participatory media, but what happens when we meet in real time?

A lot of times, writers and media makers are told to ignore hurtful feedback. So are women who are bothered in public. And neither response seems particularly helpful or reasonable. Holla BACK.

Written by Brittany Shoot. Protected by Creative Commons 2.5

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