Bloggers’ Rights

Last night was the EFF’s Bloggers’ Rights event. We arrived shortly after 7:00, which allowed us to get a good seat before the place started to fill up. It did get pretty crowded, which I expected. There were probably twice as many people as usually show up at these things. Aside from being a popular topic, it was also the EFF’s 15th birthday celebration, with cake and singing and everything.

The panel discussion was good, but probably not as good as it could have been. I was only familiar with two of the panelists, Dan Gillmore and Violet Blue, both of whom work on sites I read at least somewhat regularly. Not entirely coincidentally, they were also the most interesting, I thought. I was hoping for more discussion on blogging and work. There have been a number of stories in the press lately about people being fired for writing about work and it’s an interesting issue, especially when compared to the recent trend of other companies allowing and even encouraging it.

As might be expected at something like this, there were also a couple of real kooks in attendance. The best, hands down, was the woman who started talking about how her blog was “disappeared” off Google after her run-in with Homeland Security goons in their “black exoskeletons” who took all her blog flyers she was handing out. She was a little light on the details, but Google is apparently in collusion with the DHS with the purpose of suppressing her “incredibly subversive” web site content. She kept saying “Free speech is free search” (I may have that backwards). Also representing the anti-Google kooks was the guy sitting next to me who insisted that Google secretly takes money for higher search rankings. This likely comes from his own site not having the pagerank he feels he deserves, a la Daniel Brandt.

EFF Bloggers' Rights panel

From left to right: Kurt Opshal, Jackson West, Violet Blue, Dan Gillmore, Danah Boyd, Mary Hodder. Brief introductions and links to their sites can be found on the EFF event page.