Featured Comment: InfoWeek's Response

I thought this one was too important to leave in the comments on my piece about Alexander Wolfe's cynical and lazy blogging on the iPhone SDK.

David Dugan took the trouble to make a complaint to InfoWeek about the article. The full response is in his comment at the above link, but here's a little dissection:

Alex actually runs one of the fastest growing Blogs inside InformationWeek, and yes it grows fast based on the juicy headlines, creating some contention and the other things that make a Blog good.

Translation: telling lies about subjects which people care about is good for business.

Comment: This is the downside of the move to 'free'. When everyone's competing for advertising eyeballs on content that they used to charge for. It's difficult to believe that this dynamic has zero impact on the content itself. Look at what Information Week are explicitly saying: our free-content properties are deliberately made more sensational and argumentative than the content that is paid for.

we definitely take more liberty in blogging than we do in a major feature or a news story–there is a difference between these things in our approach.

Translation: accuracy doesn't matter unless it's on a slice of dead tree.

Comment: It's hard to think of a phrase more euphemistic than "take more liberty". Sentences like "we care less about accuracy in blogging" or "we don't mind incorrect statements in our blogs" or "any amount of garbage is just fine with us on the blog pages" sounds a whole lot less noble, doesn't it?

Everyone on this e-mail does not want to lose you as a user of our site, nor do we consider it 'click whoring' to write content that gets people riled up–that is the beauty of blogging and that is the beauty of people like you who care enough to send this sort of note.

Translation: We don't actually know why people read blogs but we read John C. Dvorak once and copied him.

Comment: Is getting people riled up really "the beauty of blogging"? I have a much better definition of the "beauty of blogging": getting real-world experience from real people who have deep knowledge of their subject and are free to write what they want.

Come to think of it, do tech journalists satisfy any of those four conditions? I'll grant - in some cases - that they are real people. However, Wolfe's piece showed that his experience was most certainly not real-world, as he had not even downloaded the SDK. His knowledge on the subject is somewhere between shallow and non-existant, and he is clearly under orders to be sensational in order to grow his readership.

In a world in which Craig Hockenberry can blog about his direct experience in developing for the iPhone, why do I need a journalist to mediate that information for me?

I would like to start a web service like Gravatar where you can state your competencies and those competencies are linked to from every article, post and comment you make on the web. Simply writing under a once-respectable masthead is no longer enough. In fact, today, it's probably a good indicator that one should lower one's expectations.