Tuesday, November 08, 2005

When blogs attack

Pragmaticism was vandalized recently. I apologize for the interruption--the culprit is now being reeducated, and by reeducated I mean we're making him listen to "Justin Timberlake: A Tribute to Bono" over and over.

Forbes magazine had an interesting and polemical cover story the other day: Attack of the Blogs. They throw down the gauntlet at the beginning of the article:

'Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo..."Bloggers are more of a threat than people realize, and they are only going to get more toxic. This is the new reality," says Peter Blackshaw, chief marketing officer at Intelliseek, a Cincinnati firm that sifts through millions of blogs to provide watch-your-back service to 75 clients, including Procter & Gamble and Ford.'

The main point of the article is that blogs are a difficult-to-fight way to attack brands and people. I don't disagree--they (1) do attack brands and people, and (2) they are difficult to fight. But it's almost as if the article undermines its own point by doing what it's railing against--taking blogs so darn seriously. Because there are fewer checks and balances on a blog, it's harder to get a blog to stop, or track down its author, than, say, a newspaper story. BUT, the flipside of that is that (at least in theory) we'd take a blog less seriously than an article in the newspaper. So, do these two forces cancel each other out, or does, as the article asserts, the bad outweigh the good?

I wonder if comments on this post will split down political lines. I'll put forth my own argument after we get into the discussion.


At 6:03 PM, Blogger StandingOutInTheCold said...

Watch out, IBM might be watching your blog now:
I'll post my personal response when I have more time, I just saw this article and wanted to put it up here before I lost the link.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Jackscolon said...

Besides the fact that the vandalism received just as many comments as "Democracy and Power", I totally agree that the Justin Timberlake punishment fits the crime. Just kidding, but seriously, why hasn't cricket caught on here in the states?

I think you are totally right in saying that people take blogs way too seriously. I'd write more, but I think I'm going to go post something toxic about Intelliseek...

At 9:55 AM, Blogger RedHurt said...

I think it's pretty ridiculous. The blog is just the technological and literary extension of common conversation, the gossip chain, etc. That these things are now more accessible might make them more "dangerous," but so far the only people who've really suffered from any significant criticism on blogs is the media, and that only in several instances where they CLEARLY deserved it.

Blogs promote a lot of uselessness, but they also provide a forum for accountability and communication un-stifled by censorship or corporate control. I've said it before, but it's intensely ironic to me that the media, guardians of liberty, free speech, and the opposition of all censorship, should be so up in arms when we the commoners start discussing news and issues without the guidance of their ivory tower.

stupid hypocritical bastards.

In 20 years, blogs will be a relatively mundane part of life, like mailing lists and bulletin boards and television. A few will rise to prominence and gain a following, many many will die, but many will stick around and do nothing of serious consequence for society at large.

I think most blogs are places where people who already know each other stay in touch, like this one, and those of the others who post here. The majority have only a few readers and are posted to very infrequently. To lump these inocculous blogs in with those focused on media accountability or political rallying is irresponsible, and to think that either is a poison is simply stupid.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger RedHurt said...

justin timberlake is an urban poet paying tribute to one of modern history's true crusading heroes, a man of unrivaled depth of lyricism and a heart for those whose fortunes are much smaller than his own - the Bono. I'm honored to be gifted with this chance to sit awash in their greatness.

Just kidding, but seriousl, when Bono sings that he "still hasn't found what [he's] looking for", I think he's talking about the last cliche on earth, because his lyrics aren't much more than a scattered collection of the rest of them. And justin timberlake should be locked in a small box with john travolta, michael jackson, and every other embarassing entertainment icon our society insists on pretending didn't use up their 15 minutes of fame about 3 million hours ago.

At 2:35 PM, Blogger StandingOutInTheCold said...

"when Bono sings that he "still hasn't found what [he's] looking for"" maybe he's looking for blogs that are ruining his life by talking bad about him...

I don't see how blogs can be so detrimental to a business. If people are dumb enough to believe what I write just because its on a blog then they're probably dumb enough to believe whatever advertising the company has, so it evens out. And if they believe what I write because they know me personally then they'd hear what I think eventually anyway. So the only sales they lose from my blog are the people who would have bought their item between the time I said bad things about it and when they heard what I said. So basically these companies are admitting that a significant number of people who buy their products later regret it and if they had heard the truth before hand they would never bought the thing to begin with. Either that or they are saying that the general population is too stupid and gullible to be trusted with intercommunication. Personally I say both.

My verification word is "Mutlmy" which is going to be the next big toy marketed by Fisher Price -- if the blogs don't tell everyone about its defects before it hits the shelves.

At 4:10 PM, Blogger BrianESpilner said...

redhurt dissing Bono? you crazy? Anyway, I think blogs are harmless and people are more likely to take Fox news seriously before a blog, which, lets face it, will never happen.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger RedHurt said...

no. Bono has done a lot of great for the world, blah blah blah, but I think his music is retarded. I've really tried very hard to like U2, since it's a favorite of most of my friends, but I really can't stand them. Absolute garbage. "The Edge" plays ridiculously simple music that's boring a repetitive, and the lyrics are loaded with more cliche and useless jargon than a copy of People magazine.

At 8:40 AM, Blogger CharlesPeirce said...

I'm a little surprised by how much I agree with redhurt, jackscolon, and standingout. It seems that conservatives simultaneously think that blogs are a threat to corporations AND a a way to put a check on the so-called liberal media, while liberals think that blogs are a way to put a check on corporations AND a way to put a check on a media they WISH were liberal. Not only can we not agree on what's right, we can't agree on what is. Still, that makes you three (and others) more balanced (and accurate) in your views. It looks like there's going to be a huge online market for blog-protection, blog-counter-attacks, and other such things.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Barnabas18 said...


My personal feeling, and I know it to be the feeling of prominent conservatives, is that the blog is a very pure form of expression. I mean, I think J.S. Mill (despite his elitism) would be very proud. I say let every idiot prove himself and idiot by what he says, and be proved wrong with truthful expression that follows. I think you are right to say that nobody should take blogs too seriously - people need to understand that they are a different kind of media. They aren't meant to break news - they are meant to provide commentary and discussion.

Blogs can be extremely useful in developing, sharpening, and educating the public - and like Redhurt said - many are against them because they aren't under the guidance of the Ivory Towers.


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