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"To learn and do good."

Whose side are you on?

One day ago, TODAY newspaper announced the formation of The Association of Bloggers (Singapore). I’d actually been told of such an association forming before they went public yesterday, and when i was told then, i immediately drew a parallel to the Marvel story arc: Civil War

The parallel is startling because of my fascination with the themes associated with “the responsibilities of those in power.” I’m somewhat convinced that there are those of us online who believe that there is power in the words we type, the causes we support, the unity of our actions. Of course there are also online citizens who would very much like to be left alone, or don’t see themselves with that sort of responsibility. More power to them.. this blog post isn’t about telling you what’s right or wrong. You make that choice yourself.

Without going into vendettas that seem to be plaguing most of the online discussion over the formation of this group, I personally would not join the association. On the grounds that I am a free-thinking individual and I owe no specific allegiance to anyone. That is the beauty of blogging and exercising our right to freedom of speech. This sentiment is also voiced by one of The Association’s members, Xtralicious.

I do applaud the association for championing “more professionalism in blogging”, because I think that blogging has the potential to make things happen, and if you find a group of like-minded individuals, more power to you. And although that is in alignment with some of my own ideals, i realise my interest is not so much in being an activist, but more an observer, to even offer third party opinions.. or practicing the journalistic ideal of the 4th estate.

Again, I do not see the need to pay a membership fee to join the association simply because i do not want to join the association. I’m definitely not a “professional” blogger (whatever that is), I’m simply a blogger who’s sharing his opinion. I applaud professional behavior such as being civil, ethical and checking of facts.. but i don’t think “professional” blogging is an occupation that requires a membership to an association. What pre-requisites does one need to join the association? It’s not like a medical, accounting or law associations where you need certain credentials. And if all you need is “to be a blogger”, then that’s hardly a criteria.. and you can see where this circular argument is going.

One final concern I have about this action, is that after 24 hours, you can see the effects of splintering. There are those who support the formation of the association, and there are those who are vehemently opposed to it. Bloggers seem to be starting to take sides and there has also been a revisitation of old wounds, unaddressed issues, bloggers calling out for the motivations of starting the association, personal attacks, boycotts.. it’s a little tragic I believe, the symptoms of a civil war.

I doubt it will escalate to that, but it seems that some prominent Singapore bloggers are against the idea. Naturally, they also maintain an anonymous presence on the web. [Links: Rockson, Singabloodypore]

Anonymity plays an important role in exercising some level of freedom of speech. It allows you to say what’s really on your mind without the ramifications of personal attacks, political attacks, things that could harm your reputation offline. In an ideal democracy, I’d say there’s little need for such anonymity, but I don’t think that exists anywhere in the world today. On the flipside, many abuse anonymity and undermine the efforts of various organisations unnecessarily. This is where something like the association would come in handy.

But I don’t think the Internet will ever be a place of registered and unregistered bloggers. If it does, I’m inclined to think that some form of personal freedom is taken away. While i choose to reveal my own identity public, I never expect it of everybody. That is your own choice.

It is with this regard to freedom of choice, and freedom of expression that I find I would rather not join the association. My validation as a blogger comes through my own integrity and my audience. Not necessarily through an external body. It works for me, but YOU will definitely have your own opinion.

If you want to find out what works for you, I urge you to make your own decision and be true to yourself in your own blogging endeavors.

Insert 21 January 2009, 10:29 AM: After reading the comments, I realise I made a poor job articulating that I don’t see this as a black or white issue, and that I’d hate to see us having to take sides. There is a massive clout of grey in this discussion, and I believe most of us exist in the “grey” paradigm. There is no need to call for boycotts or call each other un-patriots. The Net exists as an ecosystem of free thought, some unsavory, some enlightening. Just thought I would make that clearer -)

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17 Responses

  1. Brennan says:

    For me, I prefer to be on the backside. Nice observations thou.

  2. yin says:

    i concur. i do not require a general body with its rules, guidelines, policies and worse of all, administrative fees, to define and ascertain the fact that i am a blogger.

    sides i don’t blog professionally. it kills everything that is essentially me.

  3. Ian Timothy says:

    Interesting parallel. Considering the next story arc was the invasion of the Skrull.

    It was speculated and I believed revealed that the Skrull used the Civil War and the Act to damage the superhuman population to make the invasion easier.

  4. Roger Tan says:

    There is no need to choose side at all as like any other choices it do not have to be either black or white.

    The association is a good setup for many but I doubt they are trying to dictate how bloggers should behave. Many of us should really try reading it in full than to just jump on it so fast.

    The mistake I see is the announcemnet made even without a proper website or explaination in details what are they trying to achieve. I myself don’t know what it was until I read about it from their wordpress.

  5. Kenny says:

    Civil War was awesome!!!

  6. Jonathan says:

    Interesting indeed your usage of Marvel’s Civil War. Another parallel could be the Watchmen too, where Adrian Veidt made the call himself to save the human race… at a very large cost.

  7. min min says:

    I don’t even need to read what this Association is all about from their website. It is the representatives themselves that have to prove to everyone that they are worth the representation. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve done otherwise. Nuff said.

  8. Ivy says:

    I’m not a fan of the black or white mentality. There are all sorts of grays in the world, after all.

    As a personal blogger, I probably wouldn’t join such an association, since my selling point is…well, being me. An association that restricts the way I choose to write, the content I choose to feature will not appeal to my readers.

    As a web enthusiast, I’d like to see where the association goes. It’s an interesting concept – albeit a highly controversial one.

    As a side note, the association would be more professional if the president conducts herself a little better. Calling people derogatory names is callow and undignified – both of which are unbecoming of a president of an association that champions ‘professionalism’ amongst bloggers.

  9. Pat Law says:

    Beautiful article, my fellow Ogilvyian.

    Like you, I applaud the intention of ABS and its people. That said, I think the way to which it has been marketed can be further improved.

    This doesn’t feel like a wrong intention as much as it feels like Marketing gone wrong.

  10. Simin says:

    I don’t think Singabloodypore is anonymous.

  11. Princessa says:

    Eh… New blog?

    Damn my brain isn’t working right now, I’ll read again tomorrow.

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  13. oldskoolmark says:

    THANK YOU!!!

    I’ve been a little confused because of previous relationship fall outs. But your article provides a great perspective for the neutral like me.

    Totally agree with both for and against the Association points.I guess time will tell if they do live up to the expectations they’ve set.

    Thanks again! (Been having such a hard time finding an article like this!)

  14. public servant says:

    Maybe the word “professional”, should not be used by ABS, as it required a very high standard, but instead be replaced by “responsible” bloggers.

    Imagine an individual, after a romantic fallout, he started many blogs(no cost and identity needed), and flame the ex or exposing some intimated occasion, it may cost a human live.

    An individual may only felt responsible and regretted for a mischievous act, after seeing harm on his victim, but it is too late for any recourse.

    On a true occasion, a Malaysian blogger, blogged in one of our local community meta weblog, trying to solicit fund for a Malaysian politician, in their election,last year.

    I found it disturbing, because it could strained our relationship with neighboring countries, which may also lead us to war. May I asked who will then defend Singapore. Those people that started the troubles?

  15. bubbkegummers says:

    I was at first troubled. As alot of secrecy covered the creation of this committee.

    But I think this association is a good setup for many small bloggers. Besides it has a very strong approval rating from the brotherhood internet liaison. So I am sure he and the others must have checked underneath the bonnet and all that. I doubt they are trying to tell bloggers what to do. How is that even possible.

    I do feel however the president is really negligent and a switch off person. Instead of stepping in and taking control of this fire she is blogging about hong bao 2009.

    I really hope when this ABS start the brotherhood stage a coup detat to remove her and put in maybe someone who is more on the ball.

    Just my honest opinion, never liked her too attention crazy

  16. […] an individual's method may not be the most suitable at times, but at the end of the day if it ends up benefiting the […]

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