Well, it has been a while since I have ranted or raved about technological topics so this is a bit overdue. Fortunately this months .net magazine has managed to provide something of interest (although I think this was actually unintentional on their behalf).
Towards the end of the magazine they have a tendency to waste two – three pages on a normally pointless section called “Big Question.” In this, .net asks a selection of .net figureheads (such as people from Adobe, Actinic, ISPs, Nielsen//NetRatings etc., as well as people like Oxblood Ruffin) a question which gives them a lot of latitude to wax lyrical about all things internety.
This month, the question is “If you could remove one thing from the internet, what would it be?” Surprisingly there are several well thought out answers and most stay away from the pointlessly obvious ones like child porn and crime. For example, Chris Barling (Actinic) earns several WhyDontYou Karma Points for his response:
It would have to be any trace of Michael Winner. He gets over 74,000 hits on Google, so there’s lots to remove. he appears to have no redeeming qualities. A quick Google search for his image is even worse, particularly the Daily Mail photo of a swimming trunk clad Winner. There should be a law against it.
Seriously, what else needs to be said? The only way this could be improved is to remove all traces of Winner from everywhere in the universe. Well done Chris Barling of Actinic fame.
Anyway, this wouldn’t be a WhyDontYou rant if there weren’t some annoyingly odd comments to complain about. Let us take a look at this snippet from Steve Burnard (Adobe):
I would remove blogs, for the following reasons: They’re personal opinions, usually by people who are unqualified to have an objective opinion. They can be out of date, yet will still be referenced as valid.
Blimey. Now as this is a blog obviously I am going to strongly disagree with the nonsense Burnard is spouting here.
Sadly, he is echoing comments which I have heard over the last few weeks from a variety of media sources and, with a lot of caveats, I agree with part of the gist myself.
There is, in recent times, a strange public approach towards blogs and internet information (at least there is in the UK). Some people work on the principle that everything on a blog is 100% scientifically proven fact, while others fall in the exact opposite camp. Obviously both are off the mark by a long way. There are lazy journalists, there are lazy researchers and there are lazy commenters – all of whom will do a quick web search, find a blog which agrees with what ever point they are trying to make and then pass the blog off as if it is peer reviewed research resulting from a double blind study.
However, as Burnard points out, these blogs are actually personal opinion. The problem is not their existence but lazy and stupid people expecting more from them. I am somewhat intrigued as to how a person can not be qualified to have an “objective opinion” when they are writing a “personal opinion” blog. It strikes me that Burnard simply dislikes blogs and has tried to throw two arguments together in his dismissal of their value.
If I read a blog which talks about Stanislaw Lem (for example), this tells me more about how the author of the blog understands the person, what he has done and so on, rather than going to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica and hoping he has an entry. I do not expect every single detail to be 100% factually accurate (although I am disappointed if I find mistakes – not that I have found any in the Black Sun Journal post I mention) and I do not for one second expect editorial commentary to be impartial. I have yet to find any editorial content which is actually impartial.
As to this mysterious “objective opinion” – where does Burnard suggest we go for this? (He doesn’t make any suggestions in the article) None of the “traditional” media sources could ever hope to be considered “objective” in their coverage, especially when it comes to technology. Nearly ever piece I have ever seen on TV or in the print media turns out to be little more than a regurgitated press release, manufacturers / designers websites are no better. I have yet to see anything even hinting at being objective on the Adobe website.
With blogs you can often work out where their bias lies (if you see a penguin logo, you know MS products will get short shrift for example… 🙂 ), and the more you read the blog, the easier this becomes. While there is a risk of getting press-releases in blog forms, this too can be spotted by visiting the blog frequently. Other than the occasional high profile blogger who gets paid to comment on products, you can normally be reasonably sure that when a blog writes about a product, the manufacturer isn’t calling the shots.
What, I wonder, is the source of the mystical “objective opinion?”
One last odd comment on the “Big Question” is from Ian Pearson (slightly insane, high profile Futurologist with BT). Now, dismissing the frankly off the wall predictions he makes, this is what he thinks should be removed from the internet:
I’d remove holiday cottage agencies. The net doesn’t need them, I don’t need them, the cottage owners don’t need them and the tourist industry as a whole suffers greatly because of them. I and many other potential customers now go overseas instead, They’ve overstayed their welcome.
I get the feeling I am missing something here because this makes no sense to me at all. First off, this is a big bout of hubris by Mr Pearson. Just because “he” doesn’t need them doesn’t mean no one else needs them. I have used one to book a fantastic holiday to Hadrians Wall a few months ago and the cottage owners I have spoken to about them (admittedly only three) have had good things to say about them.
More importantly though, is the idea that the tourist industry is suffering because of online holiday cottage agencies. What madness. The idea that because of the existence of holiday cottage agencies people now decide to travel overseas instead is just too weird for words. Is Ian Pearson (and these mysterious “others”) incapable of booking a UK holiday without going through a cottage agency? Surely the final decider is the reality of economics. If these agencies really add no value, and do nothing but discourage tourists, they will go out of business and the weird happy state he seems to look for will return.
Personally, I just think all this “futureguessing” has sent him insane. (But this is just my non-objective, personal opinion…)
[tags]Technology, Blogs, Blogging, Steve Burnard, Chris Barling, Ian Pearson, BT, Adobe, Actinic, DotNet, .net, Magazine, Web Design, Web Design Magazine, Nonsense, Drivel, Rambling[/tags]