KATHY SIERRA, a personal inspiration to me with her articulate presentation and clever graphics, now lives in fear of her life because of death threats she has received when blogging. These are no simple threats. Threats against her include images of a noose around her head and some very graphic, intimidating and sexual terms. The police are taking the death threats seriously. Kathy has cancelled speaking appearances is an emotional wreck. Her distress has affected other A-List bloggers. When Kathy downshifts, my teaching and learning suffers a continent away. And her distress is real, unlike the hyperbolic reaction some upper crust Irish bloggers vent when they think the world is picking on them.
I've got a tough skin and sometimes need it to wade through stupid comments sent directly to my mail account. On a normal weekday, I get 2500 visitors here. I used to see three or four scum-filled emails a day but no more. Thanks to Yahoo's filters, I no longer get the really stupid stuff anymore. If I started losing sleep on account of stupid comments, I would move to Typekey authentication and that would stop the stupidity.
But here's the point--threats result in visits to psychiatrists. Threats lead you to transquilizers. Threats cost you sleep. Then when you find sleep, you start to dream about the threats.
In Kathy's case, she has been threatened by throat slitting, hanging, suffocation and group rape.
You probably won't see Kathy Sierra on a stage anywhere soon. She writes, "I am afraid to leave my yard. I will never feel the same. I will never be the same. "
Now consider this: she is not the only woman targeted with death threats. Bodily harm against women is a threat percolating among those using twitter. We have entered a new realm of connectivity in cyberspace, one where police are ill-equipped to cope.
We offer young women strategy and tactics concerning online privacy and safeguarding of their personal domain. First up: don't ever give out your real phone number online to anyone unless you can live with late night offers of sex. Second: Learn how to hide your personality behind multiple email addresses and screen names. The tactics are part of the the Schoolworks Programme in Tipperary Institute and from the sound of the students, the message sits well. Want more? Listen to 20 minutes of "Mixfits 18" and offer suggestions how we can extend this practise to protecting people like Kathy Sierra.
Bullying has been with the human race as face back as Og stealing Ug's flint. The internet just gives it a little anonymity and instills a cluster dynamic that extends across time zones.
Kathy Sierra -- "As I Type This"
Robert Scoble -- "I am taking the week off. I am physically ill after reading about what happened to Kathy Sierra."
Maryam Scoble -- "I am deeply disturbed, saddened and angry."
Chris Pirillo -- "I had death threats in high school."
Keith Bohanna -- "Sad and Twisted People"