hal tweets ·11:28 AM

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Gawk This: Emily Gould Learns the Art of Peep :comments

Posted by Hal
Tags: production, Video sharing, Voyeurism

Okay it’s a little late and nobody cares anymore, but what the hell. Here’s my take on the whole Emily Gould/NewYork Times/Gawker/blogger “scandal.”

So Emily Gould obviously knew that she was overstepping boundaries of privacy and proprietary when she was blogging about private matters involving other people’s lives without their consent. She was clearly doing it to advance her career and persona, and admits as much in her New York Times essay on her life as a blogger, when she talks about inserting personal asides into Gawker posts as a way to draw attention to her writing and get more hits. This is actually pretty common strategy these days: As a reporter notes in a piece on people blogging their divorces: “For some ex-spouses, revenge is not the point. Writing about divorce can be good for readership.” This theory is affirmed by one Penelope Trunk, the author of the Brazen Careerist blog, who has spent quite a bit of time writing about the demise of her 15 year marriage. “The bloggers who are doing the best are those who are injecting their personal lives,” she notes, presumably meaning that the value of your product – your story as told by you – is enhanced by scandal and tragedy so why hold back?

Let’s put this in context: A Pew American Life/Internet Project reports that 1 in 10 adult Americans has a blog. At the same time, another study by Fernanda Viegas out of M.I.T. interviewed nearly 500 bloggers and found that more than a third of the respondents said they had ‘‘gotten in trouble’‘ for material posted on their blog. Another third said that they knew other bloggers who had gotten into trouble with family and friends. Bloggers who admitted to frequently writing about ‘‘highly personal materials’‘ got into the most trouble most frequently. As one mournful fellow explaining, ‘‘I lost a prospective girlfriend, who found that I’d blogged a brief amount about our date.’‘ Nearly two-thirds of the bloggers Viegas interviewed said that they rarely asked permission before using other people’s real names, though they apparently “became more sensitive to the importance of using pseudonyms after their friends and family objected.”

In the era of the persona-product that at once reaffirms the new ideal of the celebrity while challenging the faltering morality of community, it’s harder and harder to know where to draw the line. Emily Gould is the poster girl for this. A former Gawker editor whose series of blogs – anonymous and not – set off a tit-for-tat article/blog frenzy when a former boyfriend wrote about her writing about him on her blog in the New York Post’s Page Six Magazine. This prompted her to write about him writing about her in the New York Times Magazine. At this point, perhaps sensing how ridiculous and embarrassing all this must seem to the casual observor, Gould then ended the article by announcing that she has learned her lesson. Hence, she now finds herself “doing something unexpected: keeping the personal details of my current life to myself.”

Of course, this has to be taken with a grain of salt since, obviously, by writing the article she is again revealing the personal details of her life, and promoting her blog (which is still going) and making money. Plus, as countless other blogs have pointed out (themselves only too happy to jump on the bandwagon and, like me, keep this story alive), Gould continues to blog on Gawker and elsewhere. All of which is to suggest a more complicated, less flattering truth about lessons learned in the age of the persona-blog-product: what Gould has learned isn’t that she needs to stop using her real life to make money and enhance her profile (even at the expense of others). What she’s learned is that she needs to carefully manage her revelations for maximum profit and exposure. Her cover story in the New York Times Magazine is a great example of her new, cannier, management style.

Finally, New York Observor Media Mob columnist Matt Haber notes in a column that Gawker, supposedly on the recieving end of Gould’s realization that gossip blogging isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, loved the entire ride.  “Gawker’s first post officially linked to Ms. Gould’s Times Magazine story received 9,133 views and 170 comments. A follow-up post c

locked in at 8,814 views with 149 comments, while a post announcing comments had closed on NYTimes.com received only 4,150 views and 83 comments. Sadly, another, about the article’s photos, topped out at only 2,556 views and 55 comments. Finally, it seemed, for Gawker, the horse had been kicked to death.”

 

Comments: -4-, Add yours…

Who is this Hal (calling for the real Hal Niedzviecki…has anyone seen him)? And what the f%#k are these Peep Diaries anyway? An excuse to publish a book? Each time I have returned, I have sincerely hoped to find something different than the usual scratch-the-surface voyeurism (which seems to be all there is to be found here), and professional backslapping. Big, big yawn. Hal, if you can’t deliver the “peep” goods yourself, why not invite others to post on your blog who do: who are not afraid to risk everything to reveal an entirely new realm of social experience which is emerging and evolving right before our eyes? Or is it just going to be more of the same? More east coast, Toronto-centric tripe? It’s a small world, Hal, and getting smaller by the minute.

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The Bloggist

Hey, I’m Hal Niedzviecki. I’m a writer/thinker who lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with my wife and daughter. Up till now I’ve always considered myself a private person. But at the same time I’m fascinated by people who effortlessly open themselves up to the whole world. So I’ve… more...

 

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