Thursday, April 19, 2007

Black hole? - Try a different channel

Doc Searls worries about conversational black holes.

I was awakened to this suspicion three Mondays ago, while talking about blogging to a class in a local college. The teacher projected a browser tuned to Technorati on a screen, clicked on a Top Searches link, and there, at the top of the page, was a blog post that associated my name with death threats.
Since then perhaps hundreds of thousands of blog postings have dealt with the controversy; yet the ratio of opinion to fact in the case verges on the infinite. At a certain point I realized that it was impossible to shed light on a subject that had become a black hole. That point was reached when one person's name had become synonymous with the controversy. I realized then that I would only make things worse by mentioning that person's name — no matter how much Good Stuff I had to say about the subject.

The basic problem here is not an inescapable black hole, though can see how Doc reached that conclusion. I believe I see the true problem, which brings both bad and good news.

Bad news first: Doc, you're addicted to buzz.

Just as the view of Microsoft has changed even further since you wrote The Shrinking Subject, the views of the events of the tragedies this week will change. Things get weighted differently over time, as the fog of the present clears with perspective.

Using Technorati and other tools is great for starting a conversation when you need to build an audience to help get traction, but it's nowhere near as good a filter as the rest of us in conversation. Tools of that nature use a feedback loop which is tuned for finding the immediate and the popular, with no attention given to other factors.

You like buzz... and I'm here to caution you against the dark side. I've done it before, and I'll do it again, as will others here in the non-buzz long tail.

The good news... say what you want, we'll listen... and in the long run it'll outweigh the buzz. We wouldn't be here if you didn't believe in us. We care about things beyond popularity. We are a darned good filter, if given time to think about things, and compose our thoughts.

The recursive example is right here... it took me a few days to get this written... thoughts now and then. I could refactor it even more, as it worries me you might be offended by the personal reference to your buzz addiction... but then again it helps make the point to have specifics.

Go ahead and mention away, put the caveats in, we'll listen, in the long run.

Thanks for your time and attention.


1 comment:

dsearls said...

Good points.

Actually, I usually avoid buzzy topics, most of the time. But sometimes I do get sucked into one. Happened in this case. It also happened with that other thing (I won't name names) several weeks ago.

Blog and learn, I guess.