Saturday, August 18, 2012

How I fell out of love with the Internet

When I first started blogging it was a relatively new phenomenon in the UK, so much so that that I actually joined BritBlog (which incidentally is coming to a screen near you soon with a new look) simply to pick up tips and meet like minded folk. One of the first, possibly the  first, icons on my page was the BritBlog union flag, my web address was chosen simply because I had joined the BBC's CelebDaq and ChallengeLawro online 'games' and needed a trader name from whence I joined the 5Live Boards and met some really fine people. My online nickname at 5Live, and on the BBC to this day even though I abandoned messageboards some time ago, came about because I was writing a piece for a now defunct football magazine and needed to log in to the website of a well known Italian football club. My name on the BBC to that point, 2003, had been Traderbaldyk, I dropped the trader and yk and added ini because it sounded Italian! Unfortunately the name Baldini was already taken so I added another vowel on the end and the rest is messageboard history.

After about three years writing my blog, although having checked my blogging history the other day I seem to be missing a years worth of posts, my cover was blown during a discussion about blogs on the 5Live board. Six, Shy and then Span (I seemed to be visible only to people with nicknames beginning with 'S') located me, advised me of their own blogs and a whole community of 5Live bloggers was born of which Gildy was and still is the most prolific blogger. Many have gone completely, some sit there in the ether like digital equivalents of Soviet T54 tanks covered in weeds and forever marooned in another era, abandoned by their owners. The funny thing is that some of the old 5Live posters profiles are still out there giving a one of two line brief glimpse of a life that was once shared with a greater audience than we could have imagined all those years ago.

I've always written about stuff that I find interesting believing in the old writers maxim of 'write something you would like to read', writing is after all about communicating ideas, theories, news etc although it can just as easily be about Victoria Pendleton's thighs as it can about Marlon Harewood missing a sitter that would have won the 2006 FA Cup.

Anyway, that was then and this is now.

There has been a lack of posts by me since the end of May, it's not that I haven't been writing it's just that I haven't been posting.

Since that fateful night in Munich when Chelsea won the Champions League I've actually had a fair bit to say: holiday in Germany, European Championships, Tour de France (including appearing live on Sky TV and BBC radio (2 minutes and 43 seconds of fame and it was on i-player!) and talking to a former James Bond, the Olympics, a possible life changing career opportunity, the ups and downs of Michael Gove (and Phillips Idowu), the new football season, a dramatic improvement in my health and of course photographing various ladies in various states of dress and undress. The reason for my absence really can be summed up by the phrase 'I fell out of love with the internet'.

It all began when I received an e-mail from Flickr to say that somebody had complained about my portfolio and I was now classed as a 'moderate' site and all my photographs were now subject to review. To me this seemed an over reaction, there aren't any shots of female genitalia on display in any of my collections, in fact I've always been quite careful when it comes to the line between implied nude/fully nude simply as a matter of respect to the models concerned, they might not mind now but in five years time with a new boyfriend they might. That situation was, in theory, easily resolved, it simply involved the categorisation of any images that could be classed as 'restricted' - this basically meant I had to assume that anybody under the age of 18 would be shocked by the sight of a stray nipple.

What has actually been more hurtful to my pride is that all  my images are now classed as moderate, this means that for the past two and a bit months I have had barely any referrals (viewings) from members of the public because they aren't deemed suitable viewing. I have asked for two further reviews because it's reached the situation where the ongoing project on the Eiffel Tower is considered as 'moderate' and even the photographs from the Hampton Court Fashion Show three years ago have now disappeared from the first page of Google (something which was a great source of pride as I was one of only two photographers at the show), simply because they aren't showing up on any searches.

The second falling out was because I was the victim (if that's the right word) from an attempted virus attack from a messageboard that I infrequently frequent, the attack (which was negated by my anti virus software) happened to coincide with a disagreement with one of the sites 'trusted members' - paranoid me? All I was actually doing was pointing out that something one of the posters had been repeating as 'FACT', since the old days of the 5 Live Board, wasn't a fact at all, it was gossip easily proved by a little research. All it needed was for somebody to challenge the fact many moons ago and that would have been that, unfortunately the poster in question was regarded by most of us on the old boards as something of a basket case and ignored or mocked (often both and at the same time!).

And of course there have been postings on my blog from 'anonymous', now I know that sometimes people can't sign in and do leave messages but usually they also leave a name or say, 'that post below was from me' and even when Span has done it he's never been tempted to try and lure me to a penis enlargement website or another site which states that 'you  can make thousands of dollars a day simply by working from home'. I spent a good forty five minutes one morning simply consigning meaningless anonymous comments to the bin and had to wonder whether or not I was losing the plot in devoting so much time and mental energy to it.

I enjoy writing, enjoy reading what other people blog about, and still contribute the odd comment to websites as varied as the BBC, Daily Telegraph, Guido Fawkes and the Guardian media pages (although I don't use my old 5Live nickname) and read anything online from The New Statesman to The Spectator (where I have noticed Span's comments). One thing that has changed over the nine years since I started blogging is that the Internet has got less welcoming of diverse opinions, less considerate of others and generally a lot ruder, I know the old BBC World board could be a bit of a vipers nest at times but you got to know the village (or global) idiots whilst you respected those of disparate opinions. Some online spats can be mildly amusing (such as Eddie and almost anybody else on The Spectator), but too often threads degenerate into personal abuse and the fun has gone out of my Internet experience, a bit like my day job over the last decade or so.

I got to the point where I was going to delete both my Flickr account and this blog but changed my mind when I remembered something Six wrote many years ago about wanting to look back from some point in the future on his thoughts. It struck a louder chord than the one played by Augustus who said he would rather delete his blog than carry on writing for his own satisfaction. Similarly with Flickr, although I am really pissed off by the situation with the 'moderators' it does provide a useful storage facility and place to collate the various collections and projects I have been working on.


Span Ows said...

Nicely written as always Paul, now I understand what Shy was on about in the post above; his comment confused me - not hard to do! - but then I saw this post underneath.

I am posting less to but due to work, I hope your spam, anonymous and flikr trouble are all over! Gildy has a few anons posting but they're not spam but 'differing opinions' sometimes to the point of abuse.

I have noticed the 'less friendly' Internet too but I feel it is orchestrated from various people/groups/ergs that have a dog in the fight of whatever article/post/thread is being discussed, they seem of work in packs and it is from all sides of any debate. Glad you've seen me about: DT, FT (on occasion), BBC, Times (now paying) Spectator, NS, Guardian, Guido, Con Home, Biased BBC...blimey, the list is long (but - incredibly - less than before). Now and again I happen across an old R5L thread and it is very amusing to see the names and the generally good natured banter (some 'fights' too). Also the odd old thread of mine with 20 comments or more on some of them!

I thought Baldinio was footy related, and had a Brazilian connection somewhere!

best wishes and I hope you get back to regular blogging soon...mind you, I'm so busy and I know exactly what you mean by 'falling out of love', I think it's just you get a whiff of life without it and it seems perfectly OK (shhh they'll hear us!)

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