Dear Tim White,
Your story on Internet blogging intrigued me greatly. I have some issues with it, however.
I agree that Xanga.com, to me, does not sound like an ideal situation for the aspiring young blogger; since you ignored any kind of alternative, however, I found the story grossly inaccurate, misleading, potentially harmful, and obvious fearmongering as a ratings ploy.
As a local weblogger myself (and a long-time computer user), I know and understand the importance of keeping certain elements of my personal life unavailable to the general public; while I allow certain information to be known, most of the really important things I keep tightly under wraps. Children who use blogs as a journal should be counseled as to what to write and what not to write; if they intend to get “intimately” personal, they need to know how to keep themselves unavailable to predators.
There are ways to do this:
First, buy your own URL (Uniform Resource Locator — a web address, such as www.mysite.com), which costs a mere $10 a year (less if you catch godaddy.com at the right time). When you buy your URL from godaddy.com, specify a proxy to keep your personal information private. Else, your personal information (address, phone, etc.) is exposed to the general public.
Second, rent your own server space. My own server space at digitalspace costs a mere $3 per month; you can pay by check, money order or credit card.
Then it’s just a matter of being careful about what you write and how you write it. It’s as simple as that.
As presented, the story itself puts bloggers and blogging in a bad light. As a core Northeast Ohio Weblogger, I must object to this presentation as unfair and malicious; nothing could be further from the truth!
Tim, just to be perfectly clear: my bride is the News Editor for the News-Herald and sits on the Editorial Board of this esteemed newspaper. I, myself, went to The Ohio State University School of Journalism, which means that I have not only the right — but also the responsibility — to point out the error and unfairness of your report!
Blogging is not evil. Blogging has improved my life — and the lives of many others who find the impulse to write unavoidable. It has improved the flow of information on the web, and has become the ultimate extension of the original Gutenberg press; no other invention in the history of humankind can surpass the relelvance and importance of this fact!
Tim, I would like to personally invite you to attend a meetup of local bloggers this coming March 16th at 7:00pm — which, in fact, will be hosted by Denise Polverine at cleveland.com. The site is currently TBA; I’ll be more than happy to personally update you with the information. You will be warmly welcomed and accepted into our group; of this I have no doubt.
Preventing kids from blogging is the wrong approach; preventing them from blogging inappropriately is the real issue here. Done with care, kids can — and undoubtably will — reach heights we never dreamed about; the recommendation that they use pen and paper for journaling smacks of modern-day Luddism.
PS — You’ll find a copy of this letter posted in my weblog — for the entire world (and city of Cleveland) to see. — WK