The hard lessons of blogging

Robert Scoble's Freudian slip and the reality of blogging, that expressing your opinion in public is hard. For old journalists, it's a well-known fact, but for bloggers it's harsh reality.
Written by Mitch Ratcliffe, Contributor

Scoble in societyI am confident that, when responding to Nick Carr, Robert Scoble didn't mean to type this: "The blogosphere worked. I told me violently and quickly I was wrong." If that isn't the definition of echo chamber, I don't know what is.

But type it he did. Freud would proudly display this as a documented slipThis isn't a defeat for blogging, it's just the hard facts of social work. of the fingers that betrays what bloggers are learning as they rise to prominence: Speaking publicly is hard on the ego. The self learns it is wrong faster than when you're keeping your ideas to yourself, and people have a tendency to be defensive about their mistakes.

Nevertheless, Scoble spent much of last week lambasting some of the press for jumping the gun on a story that Microsoft Vista needs to be substantially rewritten, followed by some idiotic reporting about Steve Jobs' stock-based compensation.

Both stories were wrong, and neither really got that much coverage. Bloggers made hay with it, as though the process of gathering information is different than reporting. The tiny fraction of the press that made the mistake licked its wounds, though we all know that the slipped release date means that something is wrong in Redmond, as it has been for the past several years since Vista, nee Longhorn, started falling behind its launch target.

So, it's a bit of living and learning for Scoble and the blogging world. I've noted in recent weeks, especially since Dave Winer made his silly "My work here is done" posting, in which he pre-announced his retirement from blogging, apparently to garner some pleading from his fans. Bloggers are acknowledging that they don't read one another nearly as much as they'd like to think. It's because the bloom is off the rose and now the real work of keeping an audience or community is beginning. Now is when real influence will be forged.

This isn't a defeat for blogging, it's just the hard facts of social work (not in the academic sense) starting to sink in as a lot of us pass our fourth or fifth anniversary of blogging. It was that way with the Web, too. Nothing is as easy as folks want it to be, even citizen media. In this case, the constant confusion of a genre, the blog way of writing, with the significance of a medium, which a IP-networked communications system certainly is, lends to the sense of dismay among bloggers who seem to want to be immune from criticism—why else do they complain about it so much?

It's just life, which can't take place in an echo chamber, where the sound of your own voice fills your ears with reassuring cheers. Journalists, those that are worth their salt, are used to the abuse. That's the only difference.

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