Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool
Separately another VC recently told me his firm recently had passed on opportunities to invest in some new tech blogs that were proposing a business model he described as “hush money.” Potential investors were being offered “most favored nation” status for themselves and their portfolio companies if they put money into the site.
This is what now passes for “journalism” in Silicon Valley: hired guns and reformed click-whores who have found a way to grab some of the loot for themselves. This is perhaps not surprising. Silicon Valley once was home to scientists and engineers — people who wanted to build things. Then it became a casino. Now it is being turned into a silicon cesspool, an upside-down world filled with spammers, liars, flippers, privacy invaders, information stealers — and their grubby cadre of paid apologists and pygmy hangers-on.
Guess who else wants to “monetize his influence” and become a blogger slash angel investor?
Yeah. Good grief. Fucking Scoble. I just posted an article about it here on the Daily Beast.
So: Godspeed, Robert Scoble. May the force be with you—and with all the other hacks for hire who will soon be following in your footsteps.
I’ve been responding to comments on a post about my article on the Daily Beast today about Robert Scoble looking to get involved with an angel fund. This has set off a bit of a debate about online journalism and whether we’re all a bunch of click whores…
This is not to say one group is better than the other. Bloggers can do this, but mainstream reporters play by a different set of rules than bloggers. Having been both a blogger and a mainstream media guy, I see value on both sides. I definitely know which side was more fun. If bloggers can find ways to get rich off their blogs, more power to them.
Oh, fuck off, Dan Lyons. If that’s not what you were trying to say, you’ve got an awfully interesting way of not saying it. Everyone saw where the goalposts were, and it’s pretty clear that you’re now trying to move them.
Let’s be real, here: Dan Lyons doesn’t write anything particularly interesting about tech and no one really cares when he does make a feeble attempt to do so.
Because of that, he appears to be incredibly jealous of the reach of some of the internet’s more popular (and more outspoken) bloggers. He even admits this (via a hypothetical) in the first article linked above:
It’s tough being a journalist, especially if you’re covering technology and living in Silicon Valley, because it seems as if everyone around you is getting fabulously rich while you’re stuck in a job that will never, ever make you wealthy. What’s worse is that all these people who are getting rich don’t seem to be any brighter than you are and in fact many of them don’t seem very bright at all. So of course you get jealous.
This jealously is manifesting in increasingly personal attack rants and is taking up time that could (presumably) be better spent being relevant as a tech reporter for The Daily Beast.
I’m not sure Lyons ever got over the fact that he’s never been more popular (and probably never will be more popular) than he was back when he was pretending to be a man he seemed to despise.
And, of course, having retired Fake Steve Jobs, his only chance at staying relevant seems to be publicly shitting on people he’s clearly jealous of.
No one gives a shit about mainstream tech journalists these days. Those of us who care about technology news get better reviews and timelier information from popular tech blogs than we’ll ever get from people like Dan Lyons, and I’m sure that’s an awfully hard pill for some in the old guard to swallow. Especially those who fall into the category of too old to change, too young to retire.
Instead of accepting that and putting his head down and doing the “real” work he claims “real” journalists do, Lyons is going to spend the rest of his career pleading with people to give a fuck that technology blogs don’t live up to his expectations. The problem is, most people who read tech blogs don’t share those expectations.
He knows it’s not going to change anything, but at least it’ll drive some clicks.
If Blogging is Taco Bell and Traditional Journalism is Authentic Mexican Cuisine: Where Can I Get Some Chipotlé?
Oh, that Steve Jobs.
The thin line between blogging and journalism is a debate that will probably never end, but which is (SPOILER ALERT!) far more boring than the noise would lead you to believe.
XKCD recently posted an excellent Venn Diagram regarding the difference between geeks and nerds, which I shall now shamelessly rip off:
Speaking at the D8 conference, the Apple CEO said he wants to help save journalism because “I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers myself. I think we need editorial more than ever.” Ahem. Regardless, “what we have to do is figure out a way to get people to start paying for this hard-earned content.”
Anil Dash (I know the name even though I know nothing about him which leads me to believe he’s earned a solid reputation for whatever it is that he puts his mind to) tweetorts:
I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of narcissistic CEOs.
Except, Dash’s snap commentary is kind of…stupid. It doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny. The fact is, love him, hate him, whatever, Steve Jobs is pretty much a genius. Go ahead and deny it. You’re jealous, and I get that. But the fact remains: He’s a legend in the industry.
That’s the reputation Anil Dash has to work with when he snarkily says “I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of [Steve Jobs]”.
Steve Jobs is right though, as dismissive as it sounds.
Has blogging produced its Steve Jobs? When someone rips on blogging, what stellar reputation does Anil Dash or anyone else prop up to defend it? Hell, pick someone who is or who was universally thought to be a “great” journalist, and I’ll ask the same question.
Dan Lyons made his reputation as a “quality” blogger—and probably is most well-known for that stint—by pretending to be Steve Jobs. Irony, thy name is Fake Steve Jobs.
At what point did blogging match the consistency, the accuracy, the reputation of mainstream outlet journalism?
How did I miss this?
More importantly, and as always, why the fuck do bloggers even give a shit? What great product has ever been the result of people spending time caring what other people think about their efforts?
Whether you’re a blogger or a journalist, if you’re wasting much of your time in that middle segment of the venn diagram, if you care about the distinction…
- …as a blogger, you’ll probably never be of lasting consequence or produce anything revolutionary.
- …as a journalist, your days of consequence—if you were once consequential—are probably numbered.
If you’re a blogger, and you’re “doing good things” or “producing journalistic content” then you shouldn’t give a shit what Steve Jobs has to say on the subject and you certainly shouldn’t be wasting time whining about his opinion on the matter when that time could be better spent proving him—and popular perception—wrong.
Adobe fell into the same trap when executives and evangelists started to publicly whine and bitch and moan about Apple’s stance on Flash, instead of working to prove the stance wrong.
If Blogging were Journalism (note the capital letters, there) we wouldn’t need both terms, would we?
Wikipedia isn’t a real encyclopedia. It’s not held to the same standards, and there will always be some people who think that this means Wikipedia can never be more useful than, or as important as, a traditional source of curated, edited “factual” information found in an encyclopedia.
I could write a thousand words about why that’s annoying, why it’s a stodgy point of view, or I could put my head down and contribute to an evolving source of up-to-date information that, in many very important ways, a traditional encyclopedia will never be able to touch.
Suffice it to say, if I want information about the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, I’m going to Wikipedia, not an encyclopedia. Topicality for the win.
In much the same way, Blogging is not Journalism, and it shouldn’t aspire to be Journalism.
When Gizmodo isn’t ripping into and mocking “traditional” outlets regarding their slow pace, their adherence to ethics, etc., they’re decrying their critics for dismissing their efforts as something less than “traditional journalism”. Not only is this annoying by virtue of being contradictory, but both arguments are incredibly mundane—not to mention a waste of Gizmodo’s time and effort.
Worse yet, Gizmodo is so wrapped up in the story that sparked this debate—and Jobs’s D8 commentary—that 1) they’re currently (largely) unable (or simply unwilling) to report on Steve Jobs’s appearance at the All Things Digital D8 conference and 2) much of their recent Apple-related content reads like the spiteful ramblings of a spurned lover.
This is journalism?
Blogging, when done well, offers something that we can’t get from traditional outlets precisely because it is not rooted in traditional Journalism. (Note that I am not arguing that Gizmodo constitutes blogging done well.)
Bloggers, then, would be well served to stop worrying about whether they’re considered relevant or whether they’re “as good as” journalists who write for mainstream outlets, and should just spend time actually being relevant.
Most people (non-bloggers and non-journalists) aren’t accounted for on the Venn Diagram because most people just want relevant information, from relevant outlets.
Newsvine, an outlet which at one point held the promise of straddling the interesting and untapped divide between stereotypical blogging and mainstream journalism, eventually settled for a bunch of boring, stereotypical bloggers and a handful of sterile mainstream journalist wannabes and neither side produces anything of any real interest. Certainly not consistently.
Therein lies the problem: Blogging has a reputation and it earned it. The perception (right or wrong) is there that blogging is inconsequential because, for the most part, it is.
The sweet spot is that divide, the middle ground that Newsvine ultimately failed to deliver.
I don’t think Steve Jobs dismissed that segement, I just think there’s no point in addressing a segment which, by and large, doesn’t really exist.
If you’re upset with Steve Jobs: Shut the fuck up and do your part to carve out that niche.