Just another cynical observation today, but it seems that with the election out of the way, and all of us settling into a routine of living in the world of our current “Great Depression,” it’s time to trot out the tired old tropes of the social media punditry world. 

They’re only trickling in now, but I’m starting to see the resurgence of the blog post on the “A-List” and “B-List” blogs that follows the format…
  • Pick some well established and known aspect of social media or Web 2.0 that’s a primary focus or recurring topic for the blog they’re writing on..
  • .. talk about how poorly it’s monetized or harp on every single failure that company has had over the year(s)…
  • .. and then somehow tie it into cynical overtones of how there’s a culture of stupid with a trite quote mangle like “Dude, where’s my business model?” or “Honey, I Shrunk the Payroll!”
I’m not naming names, but I’ll be honest, there are very few people in my business that have earned the right to write articles like that. Most of the ones who tend to write these articles either live and participate in the Silicon Valley culture… 
You know what? Skip that thought. The irony is that these people don’t realize that they absolutely require high levels of technology euphoria to continue in perpetuity if they want to keep collecting paychecks. The thing that they lazily work to undermine every day is what’s responsible for their lifestyle.
That never seems to prevent them from jumping on the bandwagon every single time Steve Rubel puts up a blog post with the Kool-Aid guy in it, though.
As a total aside to the point of this blog post – did anyone ever stop to ask what the hell Steve was trying to alude to when he made that post? The title was “The Web 2.0 World is Skunk Drunk on Its Own Kool-Aid.” What does that mean?  Is it an allusion to cults? Like Jim Jones, drinking the Kool-Aid?  Is it saying that the Web 2.0 world is hick-ish or redneck-y (skunk drunk is a southern or rural colloquialism). 
Does Steve even know the answers to these questions? Everyone just started quoting it (including me) as if it made any sort of sense.
To try to bring it back to my original point, I think that form of “critical opinion piece” is the laziest form of editorial (and I know a little bit about lazy – and editorials). It’s essentially setting up a straw man, something easy to knock down, but for the purpose of no greater cause. 
In debate, a straw man fallacy is typically used to prop up some sort of overarching point or position, but too often I see it used just as a way to sound like they’re adding analysis to a story. 
“Oh look, YouTube is putting full length movies up but guess who forgot to set up a business model!”  And then comes the “Oh, when will Google start making money?”
Anyone who’s ever,  I don’t know, looked at a Google quarterly income report or even a traffic report on YouTube.com knows that the company is probably making more than any two or three other video purveyors on the net combined. Is it a perfect business model? No. Are they best utilizing their assets? Probably not.
But actual analysis is too hard for these people, so they just toss up a couple lines about how Web 2.0 is known for not having business models and call it a day.
This isn’t me calling out insightful cynics like Steven Hodson, Sean Aune, Loren Feldman or even (on occasion) Drama 2.0. All of these folks either work in the actual trenches of this business or have the age and thus the perspective to make these sorts of calls. I’m talking about the pundits for which this bubble/bust cycle is their first rodeo, and the ones that don’t seem to have any particular area of expertise yet still talk about all aspects of Web 2.0 as if they know everything.
It’s annoying as hell. Heck, I know I’m wrong on occasion, and I know I annoy a lot of folks. My goal is generally to stick to criticizing things where I know what I’m talking about though – and I wish it were a rule more people stuck with. 
I’ll put it another way, and then I’ll stop banging this drum: I remember a time when the blogosphere’s most highly read blogs and indie news sites were places where you could find accurate and informed information – stuff that put to shame the Old Media stuff. I mean, those of us doing this five or ten years ago would look at what would pass for tech news at the New York Times, CNN or on MSNBC and generally laugh our asses off.
These days, I’m even seeing local Dallas network TV and newspapers doing tech news that rivals in quality what shows up in parts of the supposedly “respected tech blogosphere.”
That’s something to think about, if you do this for a living.


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