Social Web Drama
Credibility of Silicon Valley tech bloggers is at issue. The secret to Silicon Valley's success, we've been told, is its ecosystem: Where else in the world can you find such a large, symbiotic collection of expert visionaries, engineers, marketers, financiers?
How about influence peddlers? Technology news bloggers' curious habit of accepting investments from the very people they're presumed to be covering objectively blew up last week over what might be termed the Path Affair. Path, a San Francisco social networking company, got caught downloading users' address books from their iPhones without their permission. Look, This Is What It Comes Down To. The old press is still having the same conversation about the new press: objectivity!
Here’s the latest by the L.A. Times, titled Are Silicon Valley tech bloggers truly objective? This can (and has) gone on and on and on. I argue that there’s no such thing as objectivity, and that transparency is a much higher standard to aspire to. My clearly stated goals on this site: Transparency, Truth and Bias. Anger for Path Social Network After Privacy Breach.
Ed Ou for The New York TimesAn Egyptian youth updates a Facebook page with new information about the protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo.
Last week, Arun Thampi, a programmer in Singapore, discovered that the mobile social network Path was surreptitiously copying address book information from users’ iPhones without notifying them. David Morin, Path’s voluble chief executive, quickly commented on Mr. Thampi’s blog that Path’s actions were an “industry best practice.” Content Everywhere, But Not A Drop To Drink. This morning, I woke up and read Nick Bilton’s weekly New York Times’ column.
Nick is a friend and one of the best bloggers/writers/journalists out there. But with today’s column, he was way off base. Having already said what I wanted to say about the Path situation, I debated if I should weigh in again. I’m So, So Sorry. Here’s My Belly. Now Please Move On. Don’t get mad at companies because they apologize so quickly.
It’s the only way to survive in the Internet. “All this social media nonsense is destroying our community,” a prominent venture capitalist told me on the phone a couple of weeks ago. It was a throw away comment in a larger conversation, but he was talking about how quickly startups are humbled by dramatic but ultimately superficial press stories that explode out of nowhere. Like a meth-fueled mob of millions tearing through a city and destroying anything that pisses it off. Real Dan Lyons Web Site » Blog Archive » Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool » Real Dan Lyons Web Site. 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. And then you start thinking maybe you could find a way to cash in on this gold rush. But how do you make gobs of money when your only marketable skill involves writing blog posts? This is the conundrum, but lately I’ve been thinking of a business plan that sounds like it could work. Newsweek's "Real" Dan Lyons Pans Robert Scoble's Social ... Ethical or Not, Silicon Valley Bloggers Hit Up VCs for Angel Funds. With his 2015 proposal, the Wisconsin congressman has gone and bitten the hands that feed him, making it unlikely he’ll be satisfied with his vote count come 2016.
Looking at Paul Ryan’s 2015 budget you might think that the Republican party base was simply a richer and younger America—and you’d be mistaken. But how else could you explain a budget that aims for balance by chivying the middle aged and the middle class, brands Medicare as “an open-ended, blank-check entitlement” (PDF)—as though Medicare was in the same league as league as welfare—and aims to cut Medicare spending by $129 billion?
From the vantage of demographics and exit polls, Ryan’s budget pokes a stick at the eye of the GOP’s older, working and middle class base. EmTech inanity. Was at the EmTech conference at MIT today and suffered through a panel led by Robert Scoble with four geeks (Facebook, Six Apart, Plaxo, Twine) talking about the future of the Web.
No prepared remarks, just totally random conversation. Basically they all just spewed whatever came into their heads, at top speed, interrupting each other and oblivious to the fact that an audience was sitting there, glazing over. A few people got up and asked questions and the geeks did manage to (sort of) address one or two but then they forgot about the questioners and just started rambling again, talking to each other and forgetting about the audience.
It was like watching five college kids with ADHD and an eight-ball of coke trying to hold a conversation. Scoble: hit man of Silicon Valley? Today a “journalist” (Dan Lyons) says I have been hitting up VCs to start my own fund.
Really? I didn’t know that! Journalists Still Don't Understand Silicon Valley - Business. As yet another jousting match goes down between a member of the New York City media elite and a Silicon Valley-based blogger dude, we're starting to get concerned that journalists covering the tech industry have no idea what they're doing.
Robert Scoble is the latest geek in the crosshairs, after NewsBeast's technology editor Dan Lyons took aim at the veteran tech blogger for allegedly scheming behind closed doors in order to create a venture capital firm that would invest in the companies that Scoble blogs about. Scoble starkly denied the report. Lyons apologized. Twitter fumed. On the micro level, the specifics of the spat seem a little silly. People don’t care about scoops, they care about trust. We have written a number of times about how social media and the “democratization of distribution” has compressed the news cycle to the point where the half-life of a scoop is measured in minutes rather than hours or days.
And judging by a survey of media attitudes that Craigslist founder Craig Newmark has just released, the number of people who care about who reported something first is rapidly diminishing — if it was ever that big to begin with. Instead, what matters most to readers and listeners and viewers is the trustworthiness of the source, whether it’s a TV program or a newspaper. Trust, as Newmark likes to say, is “the new black.” The survey, which was done by a polling firm in January, came out of Newmark’s new venture Craigconnects, which he has said is an effort to help nonprofit entities of all kinds connect with supporters.
Bat. Shit. Crazy. Looks like someone woke up from his nap of the last three years and is hungry. Sadly, I don’t have much food for him. I’ll keep this as brief as possible — and I promise this will be the last thing I ever say about Dan Lyons, as he’s clearly done. Feel free not to read. Or read Michael Arrington’s post on the matter. We Are Better Than This. I’m rarely surprised by the things I read from the tech press any more, but this ongoing Path story has definitely surprised me. Partly because I’ve never seen a single company take such a staggering hit for doing something that, while wrong, is quite clearly industry practice. If you’ve used a mobile social app that suggested friends to you, it almost certainly uploaded your address book, and almost certainly did it without your permission.
As a user I’m slightly annoyed by this, and I think the apps doing this should be publicly criticized. What You Should Think of the Controversy Over Silicon Valley's "Journalism" Dan Lyons, tech journalist at Newsweek (and doer of that other thing), thinks that people who write about companies they invest in can’t be objective about those companies. But he couched his argument in a vicious personal attack, which means every post on the subject from now to eternity are going to include at least a half dozen of those Michael Jackson eating popcorn gifs and will mostly miss the point. (His headline, for those who didn’t bother to click through: “Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool”). What’s remarkable here isn’t that a senior writer at Newsweek has picked a fight with some of America’s best-known technology bloggers, one the founder of TechCrunch and the other its best-known writer.
To Read, Or Not To Read. Yesterday, Christopher Mims of MIT’s Technology Review took on the challenge of taking a step back from the screaming to look into what’s really going on behind the latest Bitchmeme. Reading his take, it occurs to me that Mims, and probably many others, are completely missing something very fundamental going on here. Mims argues that investments make us unreasonably biased and conflicted, yadda yadda.