New website, new dynamics



Welcome to a new blog on the new Pique website.
The website has been a work in progress for the last five months and will continue to evolve as we learn to work with the site’s capabilities. It has been designed, with the help of Whistler’s Origin Design and the architecture of Tucson’s DesertNet, to offer a more dynamic interface with Whistler, rather than just a digital reproduction of what’s available in the printed edition of Pique Newsmagazine. Whether you are here in Whistler or interested in what’s going on here, the new Pique website is intended to keep you informed about what’s happening, what’s going to happen and to give you a better sense of what the people in this mountain town are feeling. We’ll do that in a variety of new ways, some of which will be introduced over the next weeks and months.
One of the new tools that is available now through the DesertNet system is the ability to blog. The number of bloggers we will have has yet to be determined — as I said, this website continues to be a work in progress, at the same time staff are also producing a weekly newspaper. But for the time being I will be blogging, periodically, on goings-on behind the scenes at Pique, on things that don’t quite fit the definition of “news”, and perhaps offering a perspective on matters political.
For this initial blog post I’d like to focus on another of the new opportunities that comes with the new website, the ability for readers to post comments online. That instantaneous feedback is one of the ways our new website is more dynamic. But I’d like everyone to remember one word when they comment: respect.
Last week the New York Times was the latest forum for a healthy debate on the virtues and vanity that come with anonymous posting. Christopher Wolf, an Internet and privacy attorney and leader of the Internet Task Force of the Anti-Defamation League, kicked off the discussion with the premise that “People who are able to post anonymously (or pseudonymously) are far more likely to say awful things, sometimes with awful consequences, such as the suicides of cyberbullied young people. The abuse extends to hate-filled and inflammatory comments appended to the online versions of newspaper articles — comments that hijack legitimate discussions of current events and discourage people from participating.”
We have all seen it. In fact, many of us ignore the online readers’ comments that follow news stories because so often they quickly descend into incivility, ideological name-calling and even hate. What should be a forum for open debate can quickly become a forum for intimidation by anonymous bullies.
The published counters to Wolf’s argument came from lawyers and writers who raised the virtues of anonymity online. Catherine Crump, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union cited the United States Supreme Court, which wrote that anonymity serves “to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation — and their ideas from suppression — at the hand of an intolerant society.”
These are the two ends of the spectrum that anonymous online posting, in its infancy, has led to. We are hoping much of the discussion takes place somewhere in between.
We have chosen to allow readers to post online comments in the hope that it will increase civil debate and add to the dynamic nature of the community. Readers will have to log into our site in order to post a comment. Comments will also be monitored. If the level of civility and respect declines we will add more filters before comments are published.
But our hope is that the new website, and some of its new features, will help advance discussion and understanding within the community.