Do you know who wrote this?

Hands on keyboard

The web is full of angry people keen to shout down anyone who disagrees with their views on anything from the England football team to their choice of smartphone. And wherever you go, from forums for mothers to newspaper websites, overheated opinionated orators have one thing in common - they hide behind anonymous identities.

But what if some fiendishly clever internet virus suddenly unmasked each and every one of them, so that you discovered that the person calling for the public stoning of unruly kids was actually the mild-mannered spinster across the road?

That is the scenario behind Do You Know Who Wrote This?, a comedy by Jonathan Myerson which you can hear on Radio 4. He has written about the serious issues which inspired this light-hearted drama here.

But be warned, the play features a rank amateur. The part of the BBC's technology correspondent is played by... err, me.

I was in France on holiday when the play was recorded, so we figured out a rather ramshackle way of allowing me to participate. With the other actors speaking their lines via my phone's loudspeaker, I sat in our Breton holiday cottage recording my contribution onto a tablet computer.

Later, I set off to find a good enough 3G signal to send my recordings back to the producer in London. So if the quality of my audio is not up to scratch, that is my fault.

Anyway, do tune in this afternoon if you can. And if you want to add some anonymous insulting comments about my acting at the bottom of this blog, be careful - the truth virus could catch you out.

Listen to Rory Cellan-Jones take part in Do You Know Who Wrote This? on Afternoon Drama on BBC Radio 4 at 14:15 BST on 29 August.

Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    ..except that is not a new the McLibel case..the internet is simply a new twist on communication..and communication has responsibilities as well as rights

    Public or anonymous ridicule is ok, whether the odious/silly idea being ridiculed is publicly or anonymously authored, satire has its place..ridicule and 'abuse' are different.. the Interwebz, rhino skin mandatory

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    50 UU

    Rational and reasonable ideas and factually accurate explanations are often the subject of public ridicule. The fact that ideas and individuals are ridiculed does not makes them wrong - it just makes them abused.

    The shorter the explanation the easier it is to ridicule - and this is why the BBC restricts comments to 400 characters - so the establishment can get away without censure!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    @48 Lamna nasus

    "Public ridicule is a good tool for combating odious or silly ideas even if their author is 'anonymous'.".

    But this would leave you in the position where anonymous ridicule and scorn were deemed wrong, while open ridicule and scorn were deemed OK. That seems inconsistent, and veers far from the sentiment that would have debate ruled by reason and civil argument.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    48.Lamna nasus
    ‘Unfortunately recent history has rather a lot of examples of individuals who went 'postal' after a fair amount of web warning ‘
    Yet on the flipside some governments and big business have hunted and lambasted anyone who had the courage to stand and fight against them.

    Finding the balance between the safety of the few and the many must be practical and sacrosanct.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Public ridicule is a good tool for combating odious or silly ideas even if their author is 'anonymous'

    Unfortunately recent history has rather a lot of examples of individuals who went 'postal' after a fair amount of web warning of the personality disintegration taking place..yet readers thought the individual was 'joking'.. right up until the sociopathic act was actually committed...


Comments 5 of 52



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