Friday, March 24, 2006

Blogosphere Gets Taken

There has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about how it it replacing old media.  The response of old media seems to be that the blogosphere is uncontrolled and therefore inaccurate.  The response back has been that the blogosphere is self-policing.  If someone says something inaccurate, they won't last long.  Today we see a stark example of why the blogosphere is still flawed.  David Richards writes an article claiming that Microsoft is delaying Windows Vista in order to rewrite 60% of the code.  Not only that, but we're going to have the XBox team come save us and start working on Windows.  If you actually read the article, the numbers appear to be pulled out of thin air.  The number 60% shows up in the headline and the opening sentence.  It's not actually ever sourced.

Whether it is memeorandum or slashdot, the blogosphere seems eager to suspend disbelief when it comes to bad news about Microsoft.  Memeorandum links to more than 15 articles, only a handful of which call the number seriously into question.  Think about the scope of the claim.  Windows is reported to be something like 40-50 millions lines of code (I haven't counted them myself).  If that is true, we're going to rewrite 25 million of them?  I think not.

The blogosphere is not as objective as it might think that it is.  Often times the community policing works but there is also a bias and when something plays into that bias, the policing breaks down.  It will be interesting to see if cooler heads prevail here soon.


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  2. I subscribe to the "blogosphere corrects itself" line of thinking. In fact, the blogosphere does an excellent job of it.

    A few months ago, as Six Apart was experiencing some growing pains (their services went offline during a migration of their databases) Anil Dash went on a blogosphere road show to answer critics and unhappy customers, one blog at a time. It was an impressive show of the company's dedication to its clients. I was moved enough to chill out and give Anil and his team some room to upgrade an already amazing service. While this wasn't a correction, per se, it gave Anil the access he needed to answer the comapany's critics and to provide a more balanced story as it developed.

    Then, just last week when I broke the news about the new "Microsoft Podcasting Client integrated into Vista Media Center" Charlie Owen, the presenter, was able to post a comment directly to my blog correcting the story. In actuality, he was demonstrating a sample application that is being released with a Windows Media Center SDK. While the end result is almost the same: There IS a podcasting client available for Vista Media Center, and the source code will be available. There is one very important fact that I reported incorrectly: The client is NOT being distributed as part of the operating system. This small fact has a huge impact on the impact of the overall story and Charlie was able to correct the story w/I hours of it being posted.

    This is the beauty of the blogosphere. It’s sloppy, yes. But it’s real and it does correct itself when necessary. I would challenge anyone to be able to have that kind of immediate access to a business week or NYT news story in order to correct a misquote or outright fabrication in the traditional media.

  3. Now, this is reassuring. Thanks.

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  5. While it may be true that the self-policing can break down at times (many times) this doesn't make it any less accurate than mainstream media.  

    There have been many, many instances of a story being written on one wrong source or one misinterpreted fact - and then that story is picked up by other "news outlets" that don't do any additional fact-checking either, just citing the first story as a source.

    The only real issue the blog world has that "regular" journalism has addressed is accountability. You can't have your blog credentials pulled for failing to fact-check.  Readers don't really drop off much after you screwed up facts, and getting fired from blogging isn't an issue for most people.

  6. 75% of all statistics are falsified.

    Yes, including this one.

  7. Not only is the blogosphere biased it is openly biased which is what drives the MSM mad.  The pretense of objectivity is a phenomenon of the 2nd half of the 20th century that likely will not see its own centenial.  

    I want my news outlets to be candid about their biases instead of pretending to be something they are not, and perhaps cannot, be.

  8.   There is still quite a gulf between being objective and being outright partisan.  Take, for example, Fox News.  They are clearly on one side of the fence.  CNN is on the other.  Neither is truly objective but neither is either truly partisan.  They don't tow the Republican/Democrat line every time.  There is mostly truth in there, just truth from one vantage point or the other.  Now look at (in the political realm) something like DailyKos.  That is partisan.  You can't trust it.

      The tech bloggging world wants to think it is like CNN but, at least in this instance, it acted more like DailyKos.  It is getting a little better over time but it was so willing to jump on the negative story which didn't even pass the basic smell test that it lost a lot of credibility.