It looks like Pandagate (lame name, but who's got anything better?) has come to a thrilling climax; but ultimately it is all over. It's time for the participants to move aside, and the historians (well, those with too much time on their hands and reckon that every other topic has been done to death, Arafat-style) to move in. Ariontheweb is close enough to too many of the participants to not feel comfortable getting involved, but I freely admit that I have been watching from the sidelines with plenty of interest and jaw agape.
There are oodles of blogs covering the ins-and-outs-and-who-said-what-to-whom-whilst-dressed-as-a-panda, and I won't attempt to be a player. But the question of how it came to be is an interesting one.
This dispute was not a right-vs-left dispute, a simple dichotomy that explains much of the conflict on the web. This one was a battle of egos, where two, and later more, people chose to escalate a dispute rather than seek to resolve it. At numerous points throughout, from the early days of the sparring Alexes (Lew and White), through to the Danby intervention, the Bolt intervention and finally the Crikey intervention, there was an opportunity to de-escalate the dispute and keep things nice, but each time a mix of pride and ego got in the way. In the same way that the MAD philosophy kept the world in relative peace during the Cold War, participants would have found that there was mutual benefit to be gained out of keeping cool.
After all that has gone on, it seems likely that no participant (other than perhaps the man with the big reveal at the end Robert Corr) has come out looking good. Miranda - and Alex L - has no doubt learnt plenty from it all, although remains now blog-homeless after owning her own place and then later shacking up on the now defunct Two Cents. Marieke Hardy is likely to be just as outrageous, although she played some seriously dirty games if she had anything to do with the mysterious-and-non-existant solicitor Stephen Hollis. Bolt looks like as big a goose as usual.
So can we write it off as just a bit of exam period hijinx to pass the time, or does it say something more? It says plenty about the contagious nature of the internet, that allows a petty dispute to take on monumental proportions with great speed, and as it does the chances of everyone escaping dignity intact are lessened. Think of it as a school yard brawl: what starts as a couple of kids yelling insults soon gets ugly once a crowd gathers. So maybe that's the lesson - all of us who sat around watching it should have moved on, kept our noses out of it, and let the participants sort out their differences. So it's all my fault??
UPDATE, 11/11 12:15pm: On further reflection, it seems unfair to conflate the early sparring between Alex 1 and Alex 2 into the later saga that was Pandagate. Instead it's helpful to keep em separate, with the Misha Schubert article being the natural starting point. It is useful background information, though, to consider the funny-buggers being played in the week before it all started, with Alex L/Two Cents in a serious and potentially ligitious battle which saw a concerted attempt to see a blogging rival sacked from their employment. Sound familiar?