Thu 13 Mar 2008


(This is a new wondering about an old event, brought to mind by reading something.)

At a conference, about a year ago, I found myself sitting next to someone I gather is a prominent blogger in the field. Mere seconds after the speaker hurried, late, to the whiteboard, the blogger was writing one of those blog posts — the kind you always seem to read around conference times — “I attended this fascinating talk by so-and-so. … what does this mean for X? How is …”. All conclusions, questions, and speculation, uttered breathlessly, the only factual content being a distorted interpretation of the speaker's presentation. (Perhaps we should call this ‘low-fat blogging’.)

For the next forty minutes, this blogger wrote, edited, and posted; revised, and checked his web stats. He must have paid no more than 10% of his attention to the speaker and the discussion happening above his head. Anything he wrote about the talk itself must have been nonsense, quite apart from any rudeness he was displaying.

Now, call me a cynic, but I can't help but apply my newspaper theory here*: how much of the tech blogosphere is noise written by people not paying attention?

* The newspaper theory: I'm no economist; the financial pages are outside my realm of expertise. I've never bred pandas, so I don't know if that story is bunkum. Neither have I been to the war zone du jour; it could be a paintball game for all I know. However, I do know science, and technology, and some statistics, and I am constantly disappointed by the quality of science journalism. (I'm sure that Ben Goldacre will agree.)

If I find the areas I really know to be consistently badly reported, what conclusions should I draw about the rest of the newspaper?

Posted at 2008-03-13 23:00:44 by RichardLink to Wondering