Tuesday, November 01, 2005

‘Forbes’ or Fiction?

To say controversy generates buzz is to say the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground. Some controversy is good, and some is bad. As for the bad, like drivers passing by a car accident, we know we shouldn’t look, but we can’t help ourselves.

For better or worse, a feature by Daniel Lyons of Forbes Magazine entitled Attack of the Blogs has certainly grabbed the blogosphere buzz. It’s hard not to have done so with an article summary that reads:

Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo.

Whether good or bad, you must ultimately be the judge. The blogosphere’s reaction has been interesting. For a scattered sampling of these responses, take a look at what Chris Pirillo’s gada.be serves up by clicking on the following link: http://daniel.lyons.gada.be/. A quick saunter through the Google Blog Search with Daniel Lyons as the search string turns up 941 hits at the time of this post. From the contents of these links alone, it looks like we have controversy here; but let’s not be guilty of what Lyons says by becoming a cyber ‘lynch mob.’

Okay, while I was initially shocked by the article’s premise (and contents), I thought for a minute and determined that, at a high level, there are two things (among many others) to consider in light of Lyons’ article:

1. Whether a blogger or a journalist, intellectual honesty is a must. We always have to be willing to evaluate ourselves, our actions, and our motives in a ‘fair and balanced’ (sorry for the cliché) fashion. Ethical people hold themselves to such a standard.

2. In the words of a little-known Zen saying: "Every man is my teacher, in that I can learn something from him." Like it or not, we can learn something of worth from just about anyone—if we are willing to take the time to listen and understand what they’re trying to say, and then think for ourselves.

Some of the more thought-out posts in response to the article (not all agreeing with Lyons, BTW) include those from Dave Taylor, Debbie Weil, Rich Levin, and John Quiggin. Culling the gada.be and Google Blog Search results is worth a few minutes of your time as well. Scott Baradell of Idea Grove also published a transcript of the 27 October 2005 segment of CNBC’s On the Money which included Lyons, Steve Rubel (Micro Persuasion), and Neil Hunt (Hacking Netflix.com). It was a short, but fascinating discussion.

Whichever side you come down on, as a marketing professional the significant thought to me is this entire buzz has occurred before the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section of Forbes has even been typeset.

This demonstrates the significance of subscription technology’s potential and power, and serves as a call to action for marketeers to make use of the technology.

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