Saturday, July 28, 2007

Keen vs Weinberger

Well Andrew Keen just keeps bumping up against my amateur ass. I hear him on NPR, read about him on blogs and on and on. I am kind of a little over his diatribe but I found this discussion between him and Weinberger of the Wall Street Journal
I think it is one of the best debates thus far between Keen and anyone else. I think that Weinberger gives him a good run for his money. The debate about what the web and specifically web 2.0 means for the "old" economy has been going on since the rise of silicon valley in the 90's. Telephone companies have cried, music has cried, advertising is crying, mass media is crying. So interesting that organizations are so scared of change. Why? Why do people not see change as something that is part of the dynamic existence of humanity. It is what makes it happen, it is what makes it fun.
Along that line check out this video from the Ted Conference by Tony Robins. I think that it is this inspiration, this emotion that has driven the internet for the past 20 years and is what frightens so much of the established communication economy. It doesn't want emotion - it can't control it - it doesn't want amateurs definining the conversation - it can't control it. This is the issue of today, this is the democracy of today. It is what makes me excited.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Blogger Ethics

So, I am doing my usual exploring the blogosphere seeing what people have to say and I came across this blog post by Andy Beard Paid Comments-They Can Be 100% Ethical. I think that this is an interesting topic and something that you see all kinds of debate about. For me, ultimately there are several factors in determining the ethics of someone’s post or commentary. And, it is all defined by how the information is presented and whether deception is used or not.
There are people paid to comment on everything in our society. Is not a journalist paid to comment on issues that he/she chooses to comment on. A journalist will write articles about subjects that they may be personally affected by. It is something else when someone writes about a “stock” as a business journalist that they own and will ultimately benefit from good public exposure, eg. the value of the stock goes up. This is certainly an example of unethical behavior.
Being paid, or paying others too comment or post on your blog only becomes unethical when deception is used to generate positive conversation or response to your blog.
I don’t fall for the idea that “money corrupts”, rather corrupt people are often motivated by the idea of making lots of money. It is as if money will give them some kind of salvation from their corrupt ways.
Why then if I get paid to share ideas about products or events am I considered “unethical” by some? I would thing it would be unethical if I logged into someones site under an alias to promote an event that I was an investor in. That my comment promoted and spoke positively of this event or product while I stood to benefit directly may certainly make the behavior ethically questionable.
I guess, it is such a fine line, ethics is a strange concept that is often culturally determined. What is ethical in one culture may not be in another culture and perhaps this is where the debate starts to deepen.
The blogosphere is a culture unto itself and is in constant conversation with itself about what is considered appropriate and ethical behavior. This is a healthy and relevant debate for a young culture and is something that should be established.
My two cents on the topic is that marketing is always walking a line of ethical behavior and will constantly be regulated and checked by society. At one time the marketing of clothing on young, skinny models was considered completely legit by the larger segment of society. Now, you see models below a certain weight being barred from fashion shows. This in itself raises all kinds of other questions - what if she is naturally small, is a skinny by nature gal? Why is she now excluded?
You see, making broad overarching statements and policies always has its effects on those that don’t exactly fit. It is a danger that we struggle in in our society and we want to simplify all our understandings down to the “black or white”. It never works that simply and that is where the blogosphere has an interesting ability to regulate. Because on many levels the blogosphere can respond to individuals enmass. If an individual or an organization behaves in a way that the blogosphere deems unethical it has the ability to blog and repel that individual or organization. You only really exist in the blogosphere by virtue of the community. You are in a sense a member because you are willing to give up a certain set of your rights to the community to regulate and judge. It is what makes it work….for now.
Ok, well I went of on several tangents there. But, my point is, making a hard and fast statement about ethics is dangerous approach. It is a constantly massaged topic and should be treated and discussed as such.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Monkeys and Typewriters

Why is it that when something becomes democratic people get up set by the lack of quality that seems to pervade the general arena. Okay, maybe I am being a little vague here. But, I am referring directly to the blogosphere. People are concerned about the quality of blogs. Andrew Keen talks about this in his book, "Cult of the Amateur". That "the monkeys are taking over".
For me this is part of what makes this country and this time in history so unique. The voices of the random person can be broadcast.
Will anyone listen?
Not always.
Is this a problem?
I don't think so.
It is after all true that we are all different. We all have different skills. And most certainly not all of us can write or express our views clearly and concisely.

This is a big problem in America and needs to be addressed in our school system. Yet, one has to realize that there will always be a level of drivel in our society. Not everyone is an "intellectual" or a "thinker" or a "debater". This is okay, it is part of what makes society so interesting. How do you deal with this issue? How do you deal with people that would prefer not to engage issues in a thoughtful way but would rather eat cheetos and watch football?

You see, this is the crux of the problem that academics, teachers, professors and all sorts try to figure out. There are really only two groups in our society that have managed to truly capitalize on this. The advertisers and the politicians.
The do it so well. Is it a dummying down? Is society not participating in this?

If society decides it does not want to participate in this type of process it need only rebel and demand something different. It is this fine point - the point of change, or as my favorite professor at Berkeley said "room to maneuver".
How to create this room is for me the big question. I have no answer yet. But, I continue to dig around looking for how you capture peoples attention and allow them to rebel against a system the willingly participate in and help to defend and reinforce.