Per Paul Caron’s invitation, I’ve decided to write up a short paper based on my comments at the Harvard Bloggership Conference. It is a 5-page essay entitled A Tale of Two Bloggers: Free Speech and Privacy in the Blogosphere. It will be published as part of the symposium. From the abstract:
In this essay, Professor Solove examines Glenn Reynold’s new book, An Army of Davids, which champions little guy bloggers (the “Davids”) who are taking on mainstream media entities (the “Goliaths”).
Who exactly is David? We have a rather romantic conception of bloggers; we envision Eugene Volokh, but most bloggers are probably more akin to Jessica Cutler, the U.S. Senate staffer who blogged about sex gossip. The average blogger is a teenager writing an online diary, not a scholar or amateur journalist.
We see blogging as something that enhances freedom, expression, and self-development. But when blogging places gossip online, gossip transforms from being localized and forgettable to being permanent and widespread. We might find it harder to engage in self-exploration if every false step and foolish act is chronicled forever in a permanent record. Ironically, the unconstrained flow of information on the Internet might impede our self-development and freedom. Solove argues that the law should hold bloggers to a reasonable standard of care to avoid revealing private information about others.
You can download the essay here.