Disclosure and trust
David Weinberger on Ethics
Over at my other blog I've posted a bloggy disclosure statement, an idea I got from David Akin of Canada's Globe and Mail. I think it's a good idea, although I've also got my doubts.
It's good because transparency is good. There are apparently some bloggers who take money to do product placements, so it's worth stating for the record that you don't.
But disclosure statements can't replace trust. And beside, life is too tangled up for us to be able to disclose everything. For example, I mention in my disclosure statement that I'm on a faceless, uncompensated product advisory board for Microsoft OneNote. Fine. But do I also have to mention that about 12 yrs ago I was another company's liaison to Microsoft? That I once was interviewed for a job there that I'm glad I didn't get? That I co-founded a dot com that didn't directly compete with Microsoft but did worry about the Beast of Redmond entering the market? That I was an avid WordPerfect user who resented Word's success in the late '80s? That I know and like a bunch of Microsoftians? All of that and lots more affect my attitude towards Microsoft. The fact is that contexts can never be fully disclosed, so, ultimately you're stuck with trusting me or not.
Fortunately, in blogs as in life, you have a chance to get to know the people you're reading. Your judgment trumps my disclosure statement any day of the week...so long as I'm not highly skilled in the art of the weasel, of course.