Let Them Eat Internet Appliances

May 16th, 2003  |  Published in Uncategorized

Update: Doc expounds on the entry I cite here, and provides a spirited defense of weblogs vs. print in terms of accountability to readers. My own tangent on the matter, if you’re coming in through the archives, is a few items later. Doc’s also in the comments to this item, offering an alternate reading of his posting style. I’ll call it a correction and accept it on its face.


Bill Thompson savages the O’Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference as a carnival of myopic nerds and compulsive bloggers and reiterates what I guess we can start calling the oppositional line on the Google/A-Lister, er, thing:

“These people are not quite an aristocracy. Perhaps they are simply the blogeoisie (pronounced bloj-wah-zee ), a dominant class in network society. Or it may be simpler to think of blogs as a feudal system, with respect and links acting as the chief currency. The peasants toil in the low-rank blogs, paying their tithe in LazyWeb projects to the lords of the link in return for an occasional mention from Hammersley or Searls.”

Doc, for his part, responds by copping a “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” line with ” . . . Bill’s off-base when he blames quotable people for being quotable . . . “, but he seems to be willing to give up the point that a lot of the noise issuing forth from the blogosphere is, well, mere blabbing. He’s still clearly peeved with Andrew Orlowski’s assault on blog noise, though, and he’s disinterested, near as I can tell, with discussing any fix to the issue that might involve lessening the privilege A-list bloggers enjoy. He’s gracious enough, at least, to avoid the churlish accusations of jealousy you get from the second tier, but not gracious enough to resist calling people who want to talk about it trolls, and predictably unwilling to really dig into what it all means beyond burying a weak expression of interest at the bottom of a day-old entry.

In case you’re curious what the typical response to Thompson’s piece (besides Doc’s) might be, go no further than the comments at Joi Ito’s weblog, where Dave Winer turns up to call him an idiot and discourage “giving him flow,” which is much nicer than the usual accusations of envy that surround his contribution (but only slightly less petty than just coming out and saying “don’t link to him because we don’t agree with him.”) There’s also Radio Free Blogistan’s attempt to prove that a horselaugh is worth a thousand syllogisms. And there’s The Scobleizer’s graze on the issue, which lurches around long enough to accuse Thompson of being a johnny-come-lately before demonstrating a complete disconnect on the issue of accountability.

The issue here isn’t particularly earth-shattering. It’s about how well you can tolerate the terminally self-satisfied. Thompson doesn’t handle it so well, Orlowski doesn’t either, and I continue to maintain that people coming here looking for information about Tolkien’s Beowulf manuscript or Tillamook Cheese are indications enough that the smugness is both misplaced, and the product of some breakage somewhere.

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