If you haven't been following the debate over individual accountability regarding blogging the unpublished work of others, you should.* This is such an excellent example of individuals negotiating norms for governing behavior in a relatively new sphere of interaction. How often do we get to see such a process as it unfolds? And in a relatively permanent, public forum, no less?
The way we interact with one another as academics - nay, as humans - is changing. We now have tools at our fingertips which allow social networking to nudge the barriers of time and place, of status and rank. Conversely, much of this is now happening online: in public, written, stable, environments, open to anyone with inclination and access to Google. It's Web 2.o, and it's not really all that new (e.g., "blogs are so 2005"). But it requires changes in our definitions of privacy. And perhaps even of self.
Anyway, the following is my contribution to the discussion, which is cross-posted in the comments at orgtheory.net:
To what extent does this discussion change when we include the additional variable of blogger anonymity? I was inspired by Ezra to email the three journal editors who participated in an ASA forum on the publication process, in order to inform them I had blogged the event and to give them the relevant links.
I was looking at the scroll-down list of choices for which address to send the email from: my anonymous blogger email, or my institutional address? I chose the institutional one. I figured if I am talking about them, then it was courteous to let them know who I am.
One of the editors responded with an opinion worth considering; namely, I should put my name on my blog: “You have the right to say whatever you wish, but in turn you should announce who you are.” And as a preemptive qualification: this statement was made to apply to the context of polite academic discourse, not psycho blogger attacks.
In sum, should there be different norms for anonymous bloggers? Most of whom are lowly grad students afraid to “come out?” Perhaps we should all just come out, as suggested? Perhaps It would create more accountability. And perhaps it would inhibit the free exchange of ideas among those with lower status.
Contrary to Ezra, I think the blogosphere is a relative equalizer within academia (felt need to be anonymous notwithstanding). I can’t just whip off a response to a journal article or conference presentation and expect it to be published. But I can blog. And to me that means something.
The Blogger's Transformation of the Academic Sphere, orgtheory.net
Norms of Engagement, Jeremy Freese's Weblog
Norms of Engagement 2, Jeremy Freese's Weblog
To Blog or Not to Blog?, Pragmatic Idealists
Norms of the Academic Blogosphere, Union Street