Weapons of Mass Delusion

Robert Scoble left a comment on my previous post about Technorati asking me if I did check his other posts. As I responded there, the point was that he didn't amend his original post , which continues to show an erroneous comparison that can mislead people who come from a link [update: he did, see below]. That's exactly how I was mistaken in this debate and used it here, but after I saw this response from David Berlind, I posted a follow-up and amended the original post so that visitors coming there from a link would not be misled.

As you can see if you follow this link (here's a screenshot), Scoble's recent posts are out of sight, unless you use the calendar links or click on the top banner, which in my experience a minority of users do (and which won't help anyway in a week or so, since those posts will have disappeared from his home page). Visitors continue to be exposed to wrong facts, and that's weakening Scoble's point about the alleged superiority of bloggers vs. journalists in their ability to amend their writings "after the fact". Scoble should have posted an update on his original post, and he still hasn't done it. I see him updating other posts today, so he's used to it. Why doesn't he fix the one that started this all?

Scoble also brags about the power of comments, i.e. the readers can fact-check a blogger. But look at this Scoble's comment in this post on David Sifry's blog:

Dave, I'm worried you're being out-executed by your competitors. Take a look: http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2005/07/14.html#a10642

Posted by: Robert Scoble at July 14, 2005 05:45 AM

This is how I found his comparison, and I bet lots of people did too. And three days later at the time of writing this, no one, including Scoble, has took the time to point out in the comments at David's blog that Scoble's comparison is erroneous and misleading. So much for the power of comments (ok, I can do something about it, like commenting myself).

And now we can watch another passe d'armes between Berlind, Scoble, and more Scoble, then Dave Winer shimes in, then Berlind to Scoble and Farber to Winer, and (finally?) Scoble.

My feeling after watching this is a bitter taste at the way Scoble reacts, like here in his comments:

And the point of this grand debate is? Christopher Coulter • 7/17/05; 4:27:55 AM
Christopher: I don't know. I think it is "professional journalists don't make mistakes but bloggers do, here's proof." Robert Scoble • 7/17/05; 4:33:08 AM

Or when Shel Israel pops in in support of his friend Scoble writing (emphasis is mine) "I thought Berlind was unreasonably snitty to you Robert. With all that criticism he hurled, I don't quite see an actual factual error." After their interview of Michel-Edouard Leclerc, I thought they would agree with him that blogging requires a lot of humility and intellectual strictness:

Q2. What have you learned from blogging? Has it change your views in any way? How so?

Blogging is thinking in front of others. It is accepting that you are open to their comments, their suggestions and their criticism. This "exhibition" in front of the public leads to two attitudes. First of all, humility. You need to be prepared to make amends, to review an argument or to reformulate it. Then, intellectual strictness. When you lead a huge company, you create, against your will, expectations. As in my blog I pretend to enrich the public debate, it is up to me to be as credible as possible, coherent and not to contradict what I say in my blog with the concrete practices of the company.

There isn't an ounce of humility in his reaction to this whole argument (it's more akin to "mmmmkay, I got one figure wrong, but I'm still correct and you're a jerk"). As for intellectual strictness, Scoble doesn't lead a huge company but still, he's the lead blogger of one (Microsoft) and the traffic he gets on his blog should hold him to higher standards than the casual blogger.

And lastly, to see Dave Winer come in defense of Scoble in this debate is like seing G.W. Bush backing up Tony Blair's truthfulness in fact-checking the existence of WMD in Iraq.

Journalists: 2, bloggers: 0.

[Update, July 18] Robert Scoble updated his post by linking to this note! I didn't ask that much but as we say in French, c'est très fair play, bravo. After this interesting conversation (and the proof that the blogs are as flexible as their bloggers want it to be) I'm amending this thread. Now what I'm looking forward is seeing real progress done at Technorati, Bloglines and alikes, because the main point of this conversation is that there is definitely room for improvement in that space.

3 Comments

Thanks for catching the bad link. It was there, just lost in bad HTML. Like I said elsewhere that day (and will again, many times), Duh.

I agree about Scoble appending his post. My suggestion, Robert, if you're reading this, is to add short erratum notice to the post (so the original isn't lost), and point forward to your remarks about it elsewhere.

I did even better. I linked to this post since it seemed to have linked to all the relevant stuff.

Thanks Doc. And to the credit of Technorati, the change was picked up and displayed in my watchlist subscription.

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