Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Andy Thurai

Related Topics: Linux Containers, SYS-CON MEDIA

Linux Containers: Article

i-Technology Viewpoint: Are We Blogging Each Other To Death?

A Part-Response to Nick Carr and Dan Farber

Jeremy Geelan's i-Technology Blog: Are We Blogging Each Other To Death?

"For a journalist, technologist, politician or anyone with a pulse and who doesn't know everything," wrote Dan Farber on Monday, "blogs matter." Then, in almost a textbook demonstration of why in fact they don't, Farber adds:

"Every morning I can wake up to lots of IQ ruminating, fulminating, arguing, evangelizing and even disapassionately reporting on the latest happenings in the areas that interest me, people from every corner of the globe."

That "even" says it all. Dispassionate reporting would certainly be the exception rather than the rule. So in what possible way, then, is this testimony to why and how blogs "matter"? Farber is mistaking energy for insight, prevalance for significance, and quantity for quality. He might almost have written that every morning he wakes up with a column to fill...and an abundance of free material with which to fill it, served right up onto his desktop by the RSS reader of his choice. Every lazy journalist's nirvana, in other words.

It is no wonder then that Nick Carr, he of the first Web- then world-famous "Does IT Matter?" essay, jumped on Farber's hymn to the wonder of it all and mused:

"Experiencing the blogosphere feels a lot like intellectual hydroplaning - skimming along the surface of many ideas, rarely going deep."
At the risk of being uncharitable to Carr (sorry, sir!), this is a prime example of what my old Cambridge friends would call self-iteration. In other words, Carr himself skims along the surface in his blog, without going deep, in order to demonstrate that one of the perils of the blogopshere is intellectual hydroplaning.

Let us then instead don a snorkel and mask, or even a full-fledged scuba, and head down beneath the surface. For there is much more (and less) to blogging than meets the eye. 

Farber's notion of the blogosphere as comprising "self assembling communities of bloggers" who "hold a kind of virtual Socratic court, sorting out the issues of the day in a public forum, open to anyone, including spammers" is wildly fanciful. Shades of Jerry Garcia, in fact -- for don't all self-respecting Dead-heads subscribe to Garcia's fantasy that "Once in a while you can get shown the light/ In the strangest places if you look at it right"? The blogosphere is not nearly as noble a place: mainly because, of course, it isn't a place (unlike Socrates' ancient Forum) and therefore isn't subject to some of the basic advantages of, for example, ID verification. Nor can anyone look anyone else in the eye, across the blogosphere.

Anonymity can muddy the waters of almost any debate -- yet the blogosphere is full of it, from Groklaw's "PJ" to PC Magazine's "Robert X. Cringeley." And as if that weren't enough to contend with, anonymity is compounded in six cases out of ten by the kind of vehemence more often associated with the bar-room than the Forum. Bloggers, it very often seems, are all legends in their own minds; they commit arson every day in their imagination, burning down the previous day's lies and distortions. Worse still, so many bloggers suffer from what Albert Camus called "the sign of a vulgar mind," namely the need to be right.

Why would anyone think that RSS, a wonderful enabling technology beyond a doubt, could somehow kiss the frog of human intolerance and ignorance and transform it into a prince of insight and wisdom? Beats me. "Groupthink" -- history shows us -- can often in and of itself be worrisome. Just post to Groklaw that the emperor incorporated in Somers, NY, has no clothes and watch the brow-level of the replies/ripostes/flames sink...slowly at first, then faster. Or post to a Java user group that C# rocks...and watch the selfsame thing happen.

 I would go so far as to say that, on a bad day anyway, there would seem to be an inverse ratio between an opinion's worth and the ease with which that same opinion can be expressed and disseminated. But it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, so I am going to end this brief entry with an upbeat thought about, not blogging itself, but the superset of which I believe it forms a (tiny) part...that of insight capture.

Insight capture merits the full weight of all our attention and expertise in the publishing industry, because it is only through trapping "the best of the rest" that we shall ever achieve the promise of the bumper sticker: 'None of us is smarter than all of us.' Unfortunately insight doesn't reside in blogs any more than wisdom resides in Fortune cookies. Insight is more chaordic: it occurs wherever opportunity meets preparation, at conferences, in airplanes, on trains, in private e-mail exchanges. Above all, it takes place in context. If there were a way of capturing such epiphanies, if one could but scale them up so that humanity could benefit from epiphany-en-masse, then that would be quite another pair of shoes. But waiting for the Epiphany Machine to come around makes waiting for Godot look reasonable by comparison; and anyone who thinks blogging is the light at the end of the tunnel of collective consciousness has failed to spot that it's much more likely to be the headlight of an oncoming train called The Techno-fad Express.

It's a medium, neither more nor less. An interesting one. A disintermediated one. But it is not any kind of hopeful message in and of itself. Blogging is to human insight as reading glasses are to human hyperopia. An enabler, a tool. It is a neat way of capturing disparate viewpoints, but not of synthesizing or critiquing them. For that we need other, still-emerging tools such as those that TBL is developing along with the supporters of the Semantic Web.

That -- let us call it Web 3.0 - is still a long, long way away. Let us just hope, before such tools are ready to become mainstream, that we shall not already have blogged each other to death.


 Posted 08:00 November 24, 2005

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

Comments (1) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Dan Farber 11/24/05 02:17:16 PM EST

You write: "Farber is mistaking energy for insight, prevalance for significance, and quantity for quality. He might almost have written that every morning he wakes up with a column to fill...and an abundance of free material with which to fill it, served right up onto his desktop by the RSS reader of his choice. Every lazy journalist's nirvana, in other words."

I've never been categorized as a lazy journalist before. And, I do fill my RSS reader with useful, insightful content, contrary to your statement. Some is deep and some is superficial, just like in real life. Maybe you need help in locating good content that just happens to comes from a blog. It's not a replacement for antecedent, pre-Web forms of content or commerce. As I have written, the lack of tools for navigating and absorbing the content and managing your attention is the problem.

Nobody said the blogosphere is noble or a replacement for face time.

"Bloggers, it very often seems, are all legends in their own minds; they commit arson every day in their imagination, burning down the previous day's lies and distortions. Worse still, so many bloggers suffer from what Albert Camus called "the sign of a vulgar mind," namely the need to be right.

Nice writing...you must get a lot of self satisfaction writing phrases like that, but it's vulgar in itself. You don't have to read my blog or anyone else's.

"Unfortunately insight doesn't reside in blogs any more than wisdom resides in Fortune cookies."

What does that mean?....that's just idiotic. You don't think blogs are chaordic?

You are right in one sense--blogging is just a medium, available to anyone with a connection, and you seem to be using it (is is a column or a blog?) and getting enjoyment out of spreading your own verbiage, demonstrating your cleverness, connecting blogs, chaordic, epiphanies, scuba diving, Web 3.0 and Beckett--and adding to the pile...

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
"MobiDev is a Ukraine-based software development company. We do mobile development, and we're specialists in that. But we do full stack software development for entrepreneurs, for emerging companies, and for enterprise ventures," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...