Back in the proverbial day, when Laura was in elementary school, the word transparency referred to the plastic sheet used on an overhead projector to teach math or science or English. The teacher would turn the projector on, line it up with the pull-down screen at the front of the classroom, and slap on the transparency so everyone could see it. Invariably, of course, the transparency was upside down, or backwards, or in some other way projectionally-impaired, but eventually the teacher would get it right and point at the clear plastic sheet and write on it with some kind of erasable waxy pencil.
Lately, Laura keeps hearing the word transparency everywhere — in business articles, in political articles, in blogs. It’s one of those words that has suddenly caught on and everybody’s using it to describe openness and the notion that when everything is visible people will be inspired to participate: if they feel in on the process, whatever that process is, then they feel part of that process and empowered to act.
Obviously Laura agrees that transparency is a good thing, you know, in general. But she’s confused about the notion of transparency in blogs: specifically, she just doesn’t understand how one can be completely transparent in what they blog about (family, friends, neighbors, people they hate) and expect to live to write another blog! Really. Like, how does that work?! Laura knows tons of bloggers who blog about their lives in really honest and open and — wait, here comes the word! — transparent ways — in fact, she reads several of these kinds of blogs daily and is, quite frankly, addicted to their frankness! Sometimes she’ll read an entry, enjoying all the juicy anonymous-ized bits, and wonder what will happen when that anonymous-ized person (who really isn’t that anonymous, probably, among the blogger’s friends) reads the blog? Does the person about whom the unflattering or too-revealing blog was written email the blogger or go up to them in the supermarket and say, Hey, WTF? Does the person ignore the blog and the blogger and pretend they never read it and that it doesn’t exist? How do they deal with their shame and anger at being written about — or, outed, for whatever the blogger outed them for — in such a public forum?
Given Laura’s traffic stats, she probably wouldn’t really have this problem. She could probably write about anyone and everyone who is annoying or irritating or jerky with no fear of repercussion since in order to have repercussions, you have to have readers! But seriously. What is the deal? Or, not to put too fine a point on it, How do they get away with it?
If anyone has thoughts on this topic of transparency, Laura hopes you’ll leave a comment. See, that would prove that transparency does indeed work. By being transparent about her confusion with transparency, Laura hopes you’ll feel like part of the process — her process — of branting and thus feel inspired and empowered to act and voice your thoughts.