Businessweek Archives

The blogosphere is not "credible"


? Inmates running asylum at Philly blog |

Main

| The blogosphere isn't poisonous--but the name may be ?

July 04, 2006

The blogosphere is not "credible"

Stephen Baker

Steven Straight leaves a comment on Heather's post warning that the blogosphere is losing credibility. (I left a comment on the post, but don't feel like waiting for it to be approved.) My point: The blogosphere by itself has no credibility. Individual bloggers build their own credibility. I trust Tim Porter, just to pick one. But his credibility doesn't fall one bit if 10,000 other bloggers make fools of themselves.

Example: If you take a walk around the block and come across a group of raving harebrains, do you worry that the credibility of the street is at risk? If you're like me, you figure you ran into the wrong crowd. Maybe next stroll you should try a different neighborhood. But the point is that it's the people you run into that have or lack credibility. The street, like the blogosphere, just happens to be where you find them.

One other point Steven makes is that the blogosphere is filling up with boring or stupid blogs. The great thing about the blog world is that unlike libraries or book stores, it never fills up. There's room for everyone. And if even 1% of the blogs is worth reading, it's still a gold mine. (And you can bet that marketers and social scientists will squeeze some interpretive value out of those other 99%.)

10:44 AM

society

anyone who uses the term "blogosphere" without giggling, is not credible.

Posted by: dg at July 4, 2006 01:00 PM

i agree with the observation that credibility on the web relates to the person or enterprise espressing views, not the collection of sites which comprise the 'blogosphere', whatever that is. anyway, who would think that the 40 million plus blogs and their authors all have something interesting, vital, or important to say to all of us even part of the time. why would we expect the web to be anything other than a reflection of the society at large. the arrogance of those portraying the blogosphere as populated exclusively by the digeratti or glittering intelligensia of the electronic superhighway is a little much to tolerate, but it implicit is much of the commentary and discussion among the techmeme.

Posted by: haj jindal at July 4, 2006 05:13 PM

the 'blogosphere' is so young, when did it have credability to lose?

Posted by: haj jindal at July 4, 2006 05:21 PM

Stephen,

Bravo. Why it's so hard for people to understand this I have no idea, but I thank you for expressing it with such clarity and good sense.

Best,

Chris

Posted by: Chris Anderson at July 4, 2006 08:15 PM

For those new to the blog practice, "blogosphere" is a term used to refer to the entire group of sites that use a simple CMS (content management system) and feature frequent updates and reader comments.

Blogosphere is just as legitimate and valid a term as "business world", "democracy", "youth culture", "sports fans", "environmentalism", "Christendom", and other broad terms that are used so we can discuss a diverse but coherent group.

Posted by: steven e. streight aka vaspers the grate at July 4, 2006 11:54 PM

I think the person who said this best was Douglas Adams in 1999, when he wrote:

"Because the Internet is so new we still don? really understand what it is. We mistake it for a type of publishing or broadcasting, because that?s what we?re used to. So people complain that there?s a lot of rubbish online, or that it?s dominated by Americans, or that you can?'t necessarily trust what you read on the web. Imagine trying to apply any of those criticisms to what you hear on the telephone. Of course you can'?t ?trust? what people tell you on the web anymore than you can ?trust? what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants. Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do. For some batty reason we turn off this natural scepticism when we see things in any medium which require a lot of work or resources to work in, or in which we can?t easily answer back ? like newspapers, television or granite. Hence ?carved in stone.? What should concern us is not that we can?'t take what we read on the internet on trust ?- of course you can't, it?s just people talking ?- but that we ever got into the dangerous habit of believing what we read in the newspapers or saw on the TV - ?a mistake that no one who has met an actual journalist would ever make. One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no ?them? out there. It?s just an awful lot of ?us?."

http://www.douglasadams.com/dna/19990901-00-a.html

Posted by: Kevin Marks at July 5, 2006 06:42 PM

I am in that 1%, I wish :)

Posted by: dandyna at July 6, 2006 01:11 AM

The United States Air Force believes it is credible, where else can you find trends before they become national security issues. :)

Posted by: Aaron at July 6, 2006 10:34 AM

...but there are "them" vs. "us" in the blogosphere.

That would be Hardcore Bloggers vs. Pseudo Bloggers, and don't forget the blogging blog-bashers. Using blogs and blog comments to attack the blogosphere.

Posted by: steven e. streight aka vaspers the grate at July 6, 2006 09:03 PM

To each his own. Different people have different interests. What you might find boring on a blog, another person might find fascinating. The same thing applies with books. You might not care for the Harry Potter, you might find it juvenile and uninteresting. However, a large portion of the world disagrees with you. The choice to decide what YOU like and what YOU don't like is up to you. The blogosphere provides a way to find others that agree and disagree. The matter of credibility is not one I've considered before. If I read an article in a magazine and I wonder if a point is true or if it is just propaganda - I research it. The same thing applies with blogs.

Posted by: Erica at July 7, 2006 11:10 AM

The only people who would group the entire Internet into one publishing medium and analyze its collective "credibility" are dumb marketers just looking to farm some sort of profit off of blogs. I for one am not affected by whatever stupid things other bloggers do.

Posted by: Montoya at July 8, 2006 06:13 AM

So I am a "dumb marketer", Montoya?

Be so kind to tell me some clients you work for, or have worked for in the past. Mine are listed in my sidebar.

Funny, I didn't see your name in the index of any recent books on marketing or blogs, yet (at the risk of boring everybody) let me mention very shyly, that I am quoted in Robert Scoble and Shel Israel's Naked Conversations and Jeremy Wright's Blog Marketing books.

Per "group the entire Internet into one publishing medium...", er, don't we all do similar when we speak of television, radio, book publishing, etc.?

I think it's valid to discuss entire media as one collective entity, when the topic is overall effectiveness and such.

I suppose, according to Montoya, we should refrain from using an collective nouns, like "democracy", "the United States", "ecommerce", "IT departments", "food", etc., since there is so much diversity within them.

Posted by: steven e. streight aka vaspers the grate, at the gates of timelessness at July 8, 2006 09:14 PM

Claiming the blogosphere has or hasn't credibility is a hollow remark. Just as you can't say the peoples of the USofA, or poetry has or hasn't credibility.

In itself, no collection of people, books, pictures can have credibility. The credibility is, alas Horatio, in the eye of the beholder. Thereby we say that if the blogosphere loses its credibility, the consumers of the blogoshpere loose their credibility.

The whole point lies in the problem of unknowable truth. The fact peoaple find anything that is in line with their personal beliefsystem more credible than anything that isn't.

The test of this? Replace 'blogosphere' in the comlun with 'religion'. I have a nagging feeling the remarks then, religion loses its credibility, would be harsher than the comments now.

Posted by: Jasper at July 9, 2006 08:47 AM

When you learn how to think and write, visit my blog and debate me, Jasper the Post Modernoid.

Many collective groups can lose credibility.

In some opinion, the Bush Administration lost credibility with WMD. The USA lost credibility during the Viet Nam war.

Energy companies and accounting firms lost so much credibility, we now have Sarbanes-Oxley.

Posted by: vaspers the grate at July 9, 2006 05:07 PM

Yes, but Steven, the Bush administration is headed by one person, the president. It gains or loses credibility based on the actions and words of people who report to him. As such, I can't see how you could compare it to the blogosphere. Similarly, the USA lost credibility during the Vietnam war for one very clear reason: A country that had never previously lost a war lost a war. That was an important data point. I don't see how, when it comes to credibility, the postings of millions of people on blogs can compare to it.

Posted by: steve baker at July 10, 2006 09:03 AM

Okay I guess I am a newbie to blogging. It was back in 1994 that we first put a website on the Internet. All this time I, along with my peers only thought that the Internet was an alternative source of views. In the past year I started up a blog and then took it offline. Now all I see on the blogs, other than the techie ones, is everything that can be seen on television. Small wonder that people are getting confused. A friend of mine in the U.S. started a blog a long time ago and told me that it was a great way to do a daily journal of his life. He was telling me this because I had a .ca for my personal journals that I started in writing since I was 16. (I spent several years entering them into Word). The blog idea appeared to give me free space to put all this data and pictures into one place where I could share it with friends. What's my point other than being long winded, just recently, a friend from 20 years ago found my blog by typing my name into Google. Thought I had lost him along the way and now we chat on a regular basis. My point, your blog will never give you the credibility of a professional writer. To be a part of that team, you still need a .com etc to publish your thoughts to the masses. A good blog might bring a few readers or even a good friend and I feel people are thinking they might find some fame or fortune. Stop fretting over your stats or hits and keep in mimd that your daily journal may find a friend instead. Besides, I love the techies who are willing to pass on good information via a blog rather than attempting to find it via the over commercialized search engines. Who would have ever imagined that a corporation could purchase a word, now that is really taking the freedom out of the Internet.

Posted by: Dennis Cambly at July 23, 2006 11:49 AM

Yes.

The blogosphere is not "credible"

Posted by: grazitaly at March 3, 2007 06:45 PM


The Good Business Issue
LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW
 
blog comments powered by Disqus