Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Bram's note that he is looking to retire from the Blogosphere  had me pondering some history that is relevant in an odd way.  Before Bram... before the Burgher... before almost any of the characters now associated with the Pittsburgh burghosphere which is too long a list to go through, so don't be put off if I don't go through the list...    before RSS feeds actually there was another.   Folks forget about then anonymously authored website GrantStreet99.  

The history of GrantStreet99 is important in itself, had a precedent setting place in the history of anonymous internet commenting, but is now connected to the state supreme court race between Jack Pinella and Joan Orie Melvin .  It was Judge Melvin who sought to unmask the anonymous author of the web site going so far as to file suit learn who the anonymous web commenter was...  He* couldn't have been called a blogger since the term had yet to be invented, nor were RSS type feeds in use generally.  Who initially blocked Judge Melvin's attempts to discover the identity of the web site author?   Judge R. Stanton Wettick who would spend much of the next decade hearing arguments over assessment equity.  Small Pittsburgh world it is.

The Citizen's Media Law Project has a far better synopsis of the whole Melvin vs. Doe litigation than anything I could compile. Worth taking a look at again.

* Just recently Mr. Grantstreet99 is said to have identified himself as past County employee John Chapman in some other litigation.  If true, it sure seems to me he would be an interesting person to come talk at PodCamp or some other venue.  It was a novel use of the internet at the time... at least for around here and my non-lawyer thought is that Judge Wettick's rulings in this have provided a swath of cover for those who came later.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am enjoying the irony of Joan Orie Melvin holding herself up as a defender of the Constitution.

In my opinion, her behavior in the GrantSt99 case suggested that she never finished reading the document, much less the Bill of Rights.

Captcha word: ACLABLE, as in, someone who lacks the ability to separate their actions from their emotions: "Joan Orie Melvin should have ignored GrantSt99, but she was aclable."

Friday, October 30, 2009 1:11:00 PM  

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