Throughout the day yesterday (Tuesday 20th March) Article19, as is our want, was commenting on the latest Digital Capacity building seminar hosted by The Big Bad (Arts Council England).
As we're not invited to such things (previous press access requests have been turned down) all we can do is comment from afar using Twitter alongside the "hashtag" #digicaparts. The sum total of our "tweets" on the subject was 9.
At about 10pm yesterday evening the following tweet dropped on us from Marcus Romer, the AD of Pilot Theatre, speaker for #digicaparts and a recipient of funding for ACE's new "digital" project 'The Space'.
[email protected] are you just a troll or as (sic) cyberbully? http://t.co/ckawNcbp interested to hear from your real name btw :)
First, a small explanation of Twitter tech. The prefix "." in front of our Twitter name means the tweet is visible to all of Mr Romer's followers. If the tweet starts with the "@" symbol then only we would see it.
The "t.co" link is just a web link shortener used by Twitter to save space, 140 characters doesn't leave a whole lot of room for detail.
As for the link itself? Well, that led us to a page on the BBC's iPlayer and a programme called "The Anti Social Network". The BBC describes the programme thus;
"Richard Bacon attempts to track down and confront three cyberbullies, one of whom has targeted him with an obsessive tirade of anonymous online abuse over the previous two years."
Wait, what? 9 tweets on a digital capacity building seminar and suddenly we're "obsessive" and mounting a "tirade of anonymous online abuse?", say it 'aint so.
One of the messages we posted was as follows;
reading the posts about #digicaparts makes your brain melt, it's all buzzwords and nothing else!
Shortly after we posted that message a Twitter user, presumably at the event, posted this message;
"#digicaparts Permission, Purpose, Passion, Platforms, Piracy - rock that boat, PLAY! The new 5p's of #digitalarts"
When Article19, somewhat sarcastically, pointed out that the "new 5P's" was actually 6 the user in question mentioned that they were simply repeating what Mr Romer had said at the conference.
So, when we pointed out to Mr Romer that @Article19 was not a personal account and no names would be forthcoming he doubled down;
"[email protected] people tweet so fess up who is tweeting now #trolls http://t.co/ckawNcbp"
"@Article19 so give the name of the person tweeting from your account then? #troll"
We provided both our telephone number and email address and linked to our about page which names the people who write for or have written for Article19 in the past, along with the name of our editor. Mr Romer was encouraged to call us if he wished to speak to us about our Twitter account. He declined to do so.
The conversation rattled along, never raising in volume above a gentle roar, until eventually all was silent. Mr Romer has since deleted most of his tweets to us from his timeline.
We mention all of this because there are some important points to make.
First of all Article19 is not anonymous, we are right here, right in front of you. We have a phone number that you can call so you can speak to us in person if you choose to do so. We have email accounts, a Facebook page, a forum, comments and of course our Twitter account.
If Article19 writes something about your work, your company, your project or a nonsensical "digital capacity" seminar then you have an absolute right to reply. You can do it right on our own website if you choose to do so and we will even allow you to do it anonymously.
We do not and we will not hide from anybody. Article19 will say the same things to you in person that we say to you online. We will listen to your position and we will defend our position and we will also defend our right to speak out on any issue that we choose on any and all mediums available to us.
Yes, we are sarcastic, we are satirical, we do poke fun at people and organisations and we absolutely call into question the methods and motivations of people who spend public money on things that have, for want of a better word, dubious merits.
That's our job though, it's what we are supposed to do. It's what sets us apart from The Dancing Times, Dance Europe and all the others, it's why a lot of people visit Article19 and follow us on Twitter and Facebook, because they want something different, they want something that is about something.
What our readers don't want are puff pieces on petulant ballet dancers quitting their job because they don't like getting out of bed in the morning.
Article19 is a lot of things, but a "bully" and a "troll", say it with us dear readers ".......PLEASE!"