It's amazing how quickly we settle into a notion of what's the right thing to do. Take the crisis over newspaper business models. As my brother and the Cluetrain brothers have lamented, the newspaper business is on the decline. The Times and Knight Ridder have announced significant cuts, with the the Times moving simultaneously to a paywall online for its commentators and special features. Certainly Dan's move toward "citizen" journalism foreshadowed the Merc downsizing and the current trend toward bloggers influencing the mainstream media (Jarvis, Mernit, and others).
But even as the papers decline in revenue and workforce, they maintain a significant degree of authority, at least on the part of analysts and consultants who reference mainstreamers as confirmation of their analyses of the main technology story, namely convergence. No matter that many of these Times and Journal stories are fed directly from PR and marketing offsites, or cribbed from blogosphere rumblings and off-the-record "leaks." The mainstream business books have moved so far in the direction of the tech space that they suggest the path to the movies that used to wind through Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair.
My daughter had an interesting observation today as we drove to a birthday party, The stereo was blaring Green Day--American Idiot, skip to Boulevard of Broken Dreams at my request, then back to something Naomi (almost 12) described as a song in 5 sections. I almost told her it sounded like Tommy, or its predecessor A Quick One While He's Away but didn't, as she suddenly blurted out that the music made her tired. This from a pre-teen who will avoid admitting fatigue at all costs.
She elaborated: It's not that they aren't good, they're medium good. Black Eyed Peas (which we'd been listening to previously) are the good stuff (or words to that effect.) The takeaway was the fatigue. I associated the feeling with the one I get from the newspapers and particularly business book coverage. Not bad, not misinformed, but not valuable either. Though I can't be sure, it's probably the feeling my trolls have about what I'm doing here. The name-dropping, the inside jokes, the lack of detail, the insinuations, not doing the riight thing. I figure they feel I've violated the contract with the reader; they complain, I keep doing the same thing, they somehow inexplicably don't leave.
I suspect the reason they keep coming back for more punishment (theirs and mine) is because they somehow get something from the conversation. It's personal, I think. As one guy said in Scoble's comments, he finds me repulsive. Not stupid, misinformed, a waste of time--any of which are a dealbreaker in my book. You don't get it Gillmor--I just don't like you. I can relate. There have been long stretches of time where I didn't like me either. One thing that cured me of that was having two daughters. Doesn't matter if you're pond scum, you're their pond scum now and you better get off your ass and stop feeling sorry for yourself.
What interested me about Naomi's search for the feeling of fatigue was that it was nuanced. She didn't quite know how to say it, wasn't really dissing Green Day, was more talking about what Green Day wasn't and Black Eyed Peas was, and all the while was having an exploratory conversation about some deep subtleties that mean a lot to her. Here's where my trolls are really steaming, by the way. I don't give a rat's ass about your daughter or Green Day or any of this crap, this is a tech site and an enterprise one at that, and why are you being given this forum to waste our time and advertisers' money. etc. Good questions all.
OK, some answers: Like Naomi, the deep subleties about media and technology mean a lot to me. RSS (just my opinion, but likely true) has unleashed forces that are rending media into new, ever more powerful, targeted, strategic, and disruptive packages that are rebuidling information transfer in profoundly powerful and personal ways. There's a book review in the Times about James Agee that mentions a string of such disruptive words that he introduced to the lexicon (and culture) of the media in his time. From there it wended its way (the review author John Leonard's opinion, and now probably mine) to this astounding sentence:
Although many little boys who cry Tom Wolfe have called "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" the foundational text of the New Parajournalism, there is absolutely no reason to blame Agee for the great white safari jackets and yupscale anchor faces whose idea of reporting is all performance art, no fact-checking, all tease, no scruple, and not to be usefully distinguished from cool ads for heroin and bulimia. (He was a fact fetishist.)
Not bad for free, or some attention gestures toward the Times Book Review via the RoJo store. But what relevance, oh repulsive Gillmor? Well, let's sit down at the modern age version of the Algonquin roundtable (look it up) and glance around at the occupants. There's Dave Weinberger and Doc Searls, small pieces loosely joined. Who's the Man Who Came to Dinner? Mark Fleury? Allchin? Who's Kaufman? Dorothy Parker? Harpo Marx? Can you picture Ray Ozzie with a little horn on his belt? When was the last time he posted?
So follow my what passes for logic: If the New York freakin' Times can connect the dots between James Agee, Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson and Brian Hurricane Williams, then I can do the same with Bosworth, Lukovsky, Jeff Jarvis, Halley Suitt, Chris Pirillo, and the Scoblelizer Bunny, for starters. As Letterman says, waddya want for free. Don't like it, don't read it. Unsubscribe, please. Feel free to blame me.