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June 19, 2007

Demosthenes

Kids today. No sense of history. Matt Zeitlin writes, "methinks the entire “revealing of Digby” charade going at the Take Back America Conference is just a little lame . And the entire idea of a pseudonymous person being popular or influential because of what they write on the Internet is just a little too reminiscent of Ender’s Game. Should we be calling Digby Demonsthenes or Locke?"

Better not call her Demosthenes. Demosthenes is a grandfather of the blogosphere. If I'm not wrong, he's the first lefty blogger I ever read. And I remember being stunned -- genuinely astonished -- to see the word "props" in the context of a serious political post. It, like, blew my mind, man, and was, in retrospect, a weirdly meaningful signal that this type of political commentary was somehow fundamentally different, and open to some no-nothing college kid. And speaking of Demosthenes, the aged grandfather of the blogosphere is still slinging pixels. Read him here.

June 19, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

Am the only person who didn't know Digby was a woman? Or, like Communism, is this just a red herring?

Posted by: Glenn | Jun 19, 2007 5:30:45 PM

"[N]o-nothing"--how droll.

Posted by: Bill | Jun 19, 2007 5:44:04 PM

OHMIGOD, Digby can't be a woman!

Posted by: Amanda Marcotte | Jun 19, 2007 5:45:50 PM

Props to Ezra for remembering Demosthenes, and the whole early liberal blog scene -- as opposed to the pre-blog liberal web, the world of MWO and BushWatch and Buzzflash and Bartcop. Social history is so important to online culture, because sites come and go, and archives are sketchy at best. (The idea of losing Steve Gilliard's archives pains me, regardless of his family's wishes. I'd be prepared to put up a mirror if necessary.)

As for digby, I'd be happy not knowing. There have always been inklings -- probably female, possibly African-American -- but it doesn't matter, except that digby isn't getting the pecuniary reward that e deserves for eir writing.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Jun 19, 2007 5:51:24 PM

Of course the buildup to the Digby "reveal" is lame. Like most bloggers, Digby isn't actually someone famous, important or influential carefully tapping away in secret; Digby will turn out to be just some shmoe nobody's heard of before.

Pedantic editing point: Ezra, when you paste someone else's text within a set of double quotes, can you please change the double quotes within the quoted text to single quotes, for clarity's sake if nothing else? The Zeitlin line you've pasted looks gross with its repeated sets of "s.

Posted by: Christmas | Jun 19, 2007 5:53:22 PM

Like most bloggers, Digby isn't actually someone famous, important or influential carefully tapping away in secret; Digby will turn out to be just some shmoe nobody's heard of before.

If Digby turns out to be "someone famous, important or influential" I shall be quite let down.

Posted by: Stephen | Jun 19, 2007 6:02:44 PM

Well, I hope my comment didn't prompt that riposte from Amanda. Sorry, but the few times I've ever heard seen the name "Digby" on anyone they were male, and I thought I had seen people at times refer to our Digby as a "he." I wasn't meaning to suggest anything other than this piece of info went against my apparently erroneous assumption.

Posted by: Glenn | Jun 19, 2007 6:04:00 PM

Like most bloggers, Digby isn't actually someone famous, important or influential carefully tapping away in secret; Digby will turn out to be just some shmoe nobody's heard of before.

And yet, Digby's co-blogger Tristero turned to be Richard Einhorn, a composer of some note. Mrs. Einhorn ("Amy Singer", it says on his web page)? Angelina Jolie? Until tonight, the possibilities are endless.

Posted by: DonBoy | Jun 19, 2007 6:16:51 PM

Would Digby's words turn out to be worth more (or less) it were found out that she was "important" or "famous"?

What is the difference is someone is famous or "some shmoe"?

It's what they say and write that's important, not who they are.

And frankly, our most famous writers and reporters have been a huge let down these last six years... perhaps they deserve a lot less fame -- and dare I say it, less renumeration...

Posted by: grkent | Jun 19, 2007 7:04:40 PM

I've thought for quite some time that Digby is female. So IMO that's hardly a surprise.

In the long run, I think Digby's unmasking won't really matter unless it turns out that Digby actually is someone "of note". Given that Digby's mentioned having had financial pressures in the past, though, I suspect that that's not the case.

Posted by: fiat lux | Jun 19, 2007 7:06:11 PM

Digby's page features the picture of a male in the top corner. Even though I knew it was from a movie, it still tended to give the impression the site was run by a man. Then one day someone on some blog (forget where) said "she" for Digby and I stopped to consider my assumptions; since then I've just accepted the fact I didn't know.

I'm pretty sure she describes her family (or at least father) as southern conservatives, which would seem to rule out African American.

Posted by: Mark | Jun 19, 2007 7:07:31 PM

I go through all those pictures, and all I can think of is...

I AM SPARTACUS!

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Off Colfax | Jun 19, 2007 7:11:06 PM

God Dman it Off Colfax, I was so gonna write that post, but I arleady made one too many cheeky pop culture references for one day.

Posted by: Matt Zeitlin | Jun 19, 2007 7:16:07 PM

I'll be disappointed when Digby's identity is revealed. Digby is a helluva blogger and I like the tabula rasa-esque effect of not knowing anything about her.

Digby is my favorite blogger, though, so she can do whatever she likes, as long as she keeps on writing.

Posted by: ethan | Jun 19, 2007 7:31:29 PM

I am Brian, and so is my wife.

Around the summer of '06, it started to be hinted that digby could, in fact, be a she. Everyone had been referring to digby as "he" for so long, and finally the issue was raised that, "well, you really don't know that digby is a he, do you?" I guess now it's accepted as common wisdom.

Posted by: Constantine | Jun 19, 2007 7:37:49 PM

Okay... and can we just say "enough" with the whole I AM SPARTACUS thing? Enough. We get it. WE GET IT. And you're not Spartacus. And the movie is not that great. And if there's going to be a Spartacus, he's not some typist on the internet. Bleh. Enough. Go overuse another cultural iconic BS already (and no, you're not Scarface or Tony Montana, either).

Posted by: weboy (I am not Spartacus) :) | Jun 19, 2007 7:59:30 PM

I arleady made one too many cheeky pop culture references for one day.

That statement is never actually true. Grumpy comments right above mine notwithstanding.

Posted by: Stephen | Jun 19, 2007 8:15:38 PM

Well, we know it's not Mark Felt ...

Posted by: sangfroid826 | Jun 19, 2007 8:55:55 PM

Would Digby's words turn out to be worth more (or less) it were found out that she was "important" or "famous"?

They won't. This is the whole point. To make a big deal of revealing the identity of someone whose work doesn't depend on their identity, and whose identity isn't especially important anyway, is lame.

Posted by: Christmas | Jun 20, 2007 12:06:27 AM

Who's Digby?

Posted by: Twilight | Jun 20, 2007 12:27:24 AM


The ur-blogger, the very first, was Jorn Barger, who started doing daily digests back in the Usenet days.

Danny Yee has also been at it since Before The Beginning.

Posted by: joel hanes | Jun 20, 2007 1:56:32 AM

Interesting. Of course all of these blogs are inferior to my own. Link to it regularly please.

Posted by: Wido Incognitus | Jun 20, 2007 5:10:45 AM

Digby is a woman, and there have been a lot of, um, whispers to that effect for quite a while.

But a little known fact? "Amanda Marcotte" is actually a man. Think about it, and it'll be obvious.

A-Man-duh!

As for historical perspective, Orson Scott Card didn't invent pseudonymous political commentary. It's been around at least since Elizabethan times, and probably since the time Thog made a cave painting encouraging rebellion and signed it 'Throg'. (It took some time for cavemen to figure out that a pseudonym works better if it isn't almost exactly the same as the name that is known.)

Posted by: Whispers | Jun 20, 2007 6:33:50 AM

I think it's a fucking shame Digs is going public. Not that she doesn't deserve some direct recognition. But now, forever more, there'll be comments on her appearance and most likely weeks of, "Holy shit, Digby is female."

I love Digs. I have a for long time. Hullabaloo is a great blog. The personal stuff really did not need to be known. In a sense, Hullabaloo was proof that big J celebrity journalism was bullshit. It mattered more what you said than who you were.

Just the same as the whole "who was first" thing is tedious. I started blogging in 1999. Who cares? Well, me and about 80 or so others that kept a conversation going for years long before blogging was a word.

That said Ezra, I think it's cool you pointed out who influenced you early on.

Posted by: russell | Jun 20, 2007 9:30:34 AM

Demosthenes was an early favorite of mine as well, and a welcome antidote to Instapundit back when there wasn't much else around. (I also recall reading Ezra in his Not Geniuses days...). I am relieved to find Demosthenes is still out there.

Posted by: cerebrocrat | Jun 20, 2007 11:58:08 AM

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