It never ceases to amaze me the way the tech blogosphere can get all up in arms over seemingly insignificant things. The current firestorm over whether top tech bloggers like Mike Arrington, Om Malik, Fred Wilson, and Paul Kedrosky sold their souls by lending their words to a Microsoft “People Ready” campaign is just silly.
One look over at TechMeme tells you that far too many bits and bytes have been spent discussing this topic already, but since seemingly every other post in Google Reader this weekend have been on this topic, I feel compelled to get some things off my chest.
Old Media Endorses Products All The Time
Robert Scoble aptly points out that Leo Laporte does radio ads endorsing products. Anyone who listens to AM radio regularly (or did anytime in the past several decades) no doubt has heard Paul Harvey waxing on about beds and other products. Tune into any terrestrial radio station and you will hear a host plugging one product or another — even news readers do this. Folks, this is nothing new.
Would the Reaction be Different If It Wasn’t Microsoft?
I can’t help but wonder if this were an ad campaign engineered by Apple if the reaction wouldn’t have been different. Look at the different reactions to Microsoft’s Vista campaign and Nikon’s D80 blogger relations program. Yes, there were minor differences in how the programs were communicated, but the net result is the same: bloggers get to play with expensive, high-end products at no cost for a really long time.
What’s Up With John Battelle?
Let me be clear, I’m a John Battelle groupie. I still miss the Industry Standard. I loved The Search. John’s blog is on my “1stRead” list in Google Reader. But what was he thinking when he threw his clients under the bus? When you act as an agent for someone, as FM does with the blogs it reps for advertising sales, you shouldn’t be publicly attacking those clients.
At Least There’s Healthy Debate This Time
One thing that strikes me as different about this blogstorm over blogger ethics is that there seems to be more of a healthy debate about the issue, with many bloggers actively wrestling with the issue. During similar events in the past, I have been concerned by what I have seen as a rush to judgment and a “blog mob” mentality that sets in. Here we have had some of the targets stand up to the initial mob attack, rather than folding at the first sign of controversy (notably Fred Wilson and Mike Arrington). Unfortunately, some of the targets did throw in the towel, prematurely in my opinion.
Showing Irritation Only Emboldens Your Enemies
I don’t blame Mike Arrington for getting pretty worked up in his response to this controversy. Tabloid publications like ValleyWag can clearly get under one’s skin pretty easily. And if someone questions my integrity, you can be sure it’s going to make me mad (and it has). Unfortunately, showing that anger encourages more attacks, as Mike discovered when ValleyWag struck again. It’s important to try to remember schoolyard bullies and two-year old kids in cases like this. If you show a reaction to their behavior, they keep at it. If you ignore it, they get bored and move on.
For More Reading…
There’s some really good thinking on this subject beyond what I referenced above. I especially would commend to your attention two differing points of view. Scott Karp tends to agree with me that this is much ado about nothing, but speaks to a need for bloggers to establish and stick to personal standards. Jeff Jarvis and I couldn’t be farther apart on this issue, but he puts quite a bit of thought and reasoning into his views and makes several points that I do agree with, despite his ultimate conclusion.