Here’s an interesting post from Dan Conover in which he riffs on some Tweets of mine about new media and the press. My original impetus for writing those tweets was my cynicism and disbelief of any “received wisdom” about our election and primary. When any talking head on TV makes a statement about something that isn’t verifiable, such as “event X will hurt candidate Y” I just don’t believe it. I think most (not all) of those people believe what they are saying to be true but most of them believe it because they have been gamed in one way or another. That was my point about blogs, not that they are wonderful intrinsically or impossible to be gamed but that it is cost and time prohibitive to buy the opinions of a million or even a thousand bloggers.
Interestingly, on the same day I listened to the episode of The Gang where Mike Arrington came on and was talking shit with Dan Farber. Most of it was pro-wrestling style theatrics but there were some actual substantive bits that showed the difference in their approaches. I have to say that Arrington has hit the point where his motives and goals for himself and his empire horrify me. I might be a special case in that I really don’t care at all about Tech Crunch. I talked to Arrington about AmigoFish back in November 2005 and I subscribed to Tech Crunch around that time. By February I had dropped it because I just didn’t care about 98% of the things and companies they post about. The only reason I stuck around was to see if they posted about my site, and when it never happened I got bored and left. As a property, Tech Crunch holds no interest for me. When Arrington talks about rolling up “A-list blogs” and making a network out of it, I don’t see what value it holds for anyone on my side of the feed reader. It makes him money, but why should I care?
I do know the guy I talked to the day after Thanksgiving in 2005 seemed awfully different from the guy on the Gang. It seems like success has gone to his head, and he’s gotten high off his own tailpipe fumes for some time. When he talks about the value Tech Crunch brings vs Cnet, he sounds like a CEO talking about the value of outsourcing to some country with lax labor and environmental policies. What he is selling as his advantage the fact that he gets to do the same thing and even try to sell to the same advertisers but without playing by the standard rules of big j Journalism.
For me, there is no difference between Tech Crunch and Valleywag. They are both Silicon Alley porn of one form or another, and that’s a subject that holds no sex appeal to me. Even if I cared about the subject matter, the presentation and drama around it would reduce the value to nil for me. Most of the promise of new media melts away when it becomes yet another mechanism to disseminate and reinforce cults of personality. “Bob” save us all from blog celebrities.