May 7, 2005

desperate pundits

There's a group of people I can't stand. The book world and lecture circuit world is littered with people like this. They're usually called gurus. People like Tom Peters. The blogging world has them now, some being crossovers from the book world. People like Seth Godin, Paul Kedrosky, and Cory Doctorow.

In general I find these people a complete waste of space. Part of my distaste is I can't stand people who 'market' themselves. Your work or writing or whatever either stands on its own or it doesn't. For the most part they all partake in this similar type of marketing of themselves.

The real part that drives me crazy though is their constant search for new paradigms and buzzwords. Typically they employ science words for these buzzwords or as frameworks for their new paradigms. It makes it sound more academic I guess. But in general it does nothing to help people understand what the hell they are trying to say. That may be the point. Ironically, these people don't approach their work with any of the rigor a scientist would. I'm sure you've come across examples of the use of relativity, incompleteness, quantum, atoms, uncertainty, big bang and so forth. What these people are usually good at is writing this crap in such a way that it makes it sound like they're discovering something new.

I just saw Seth just posted something on the new digital divide. What a load of crap. There are a bunch of links to his article and people just suck this kind of crap up hook, line, and sinker.

The first part of the article details a split between the 'digerati' and the 'left behind' without any justification of this divide other than some Boing Boing - Firefox data. Second, and more importantly, so what? What if it does exist? It means nothing and it's not interesting.

He comments 'does it surprise you 50% of Boing Boing readers use Firefox?' No. Since Boing Boing talks about it all the time, I'd expect it. And in fact if you look at his list of things the digerati do they are all things that are talked about in that circle of blogs (e.g. Flickr, RSS, Google).

His second point is that bloggers are driving the content of journalists. No data here. This again is a stupid comment. Who are these bloggers you speak of? It's as generalized as saying people with computers are driving the content of journalists. With so many bloggers talking about so many topics isn't it likely that a few are going to pre-empt what the traditional media says?

I can't really understand what his 3rd point is. Something about how technology is getting adopted more quickly now. He states, 'Try to imagine doing your work today without email?'. First, I'm not sure how the two points relate. Secondly I can imagine work without email. I'm sure he can't live without it. I'm sure other people can't live without it. And I'm sure a bunch of people can. Again, so what?

And then there's some closing point about how you better hurry up and move with the digerati because they won't wait up for you. Why should I hurry up? It's just a stupid post. It's lazy, quickly written, completely without data, and has zero original research. It's pure pontification. And yet he says it in such a convincing way that people will go, 'Holy shit. The new digital divide! Why didn't I see that. Which one am I? Christ I don't use Flickr. I'm being left behind. Hmm I wonder if there are other things I can add to that list. Probably Greasemonkey is part of the digerati. So I guess I'm in the know. Fuck yea! Eat that you 'left behinds'.' And so on. Crap!

In general I characterize these people primarily as lazy egomaniacs. They don't really do any work to determine what's going on. They market buzz ideas and buzzwords and in the end it's largely useless. Correction. It is useless. The big difference between these people and the rest of us though is that they market themselves as smart and insightful. I'll be the judge of that.
kim jung ja schilling

1 comment:

Chookster said...

It just occurred to me that Seth's new book is called the Purple Cow. It's probably a coincidence but this phrase too is taken from mathematics. Specifically Carl Hempel's Raven paradox as summarized in a poem by Gelett Burgess:

I never saw a purple cow
But if I were to see one
Would the probability ravens are black
Have a better chance to be one?