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The new water-cooler

I was reading Johnnie Moore's take on a recent post by Seth Godin on blogging as journalism. While I in principle agree with most of what he says here, I query one key-point.

When there are millions of journalists, all interconnected by trackbacks and comments, then what they say can be tested and challenged immediately

My worry is that this grapevine we're creating is akin to those that exist in corporations, where rumours are soon percieved as fact, with no one-person answerable. The thing is, people generally speaking are happy to believe what they read/hear, the assumption being that "someone must be checking this shit", and another sad reality is that people just don't care, they want to believe the juiciest story, regardless of whether it's true or not.

Currently there exists in blogging an unwritten code of conduct that people live by, people's reputations are answerable to the content they provide. The question is, if I link to a story by Johnnie Moore, as I have done here, is it my job to check the integrity of what he has posted, and if so, how far back must I go? The second question, related to the growth in blogging is; will this code of conduct still stand when blogging tips? I'm not sure if it can.

I believe what we are seeing is the rebirth of the publishing machine. As we strive to offer more value to our readers, we will merge with other bloggers, we will then appoint an editor, and publisher (you know, just to maintain some degree of control) and what you will find, with a few key differences, is traditional publishing as we know it, brought to you through a different medium. The key difference being the cross-referencing, and as JM mentioned in his piece, "the openness of debate" . Those two alone make this something very exciting, albeit not quite as radical as we perhaps imagined. Alas though, people will/must be answerable to their content, and this is nothing new; what makes Time more respected than National Enquirer? The integrity of the content. That's it.

Right now though, we're just chatting at the water-cooler...!

Posted by Rich...! | Permalink


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Hi Rich, interesting points.

I suppose I should clarify that although with comments/trackbacks it is possible for errors/dogmas to be challenged, it certainly doesn't guarantee that they will be.

For myself, I guess I apply my own sense-check to what I'm reading and a large dollop of "caveat emptor" needs to be part of any reader's armory.

Personally, I don't think I'd want to merge totally and appoint an outside editor, I rather relish self-regulation myself!

Posted by: Johnnie Moore | 9 Jun 2004 10:18:54

Me too, unfortunatley, I think it will be a case of "united we stand, divided we fall".

The stand-alone blogger will be akin to the corner green-grocer, we all want to support them, but one-stop shopping is just far easier.

But I should also clarify; I truly hope I'm wrong...!

Posted by: Rich...! | 9 Jun 2004 10:38:25

People don't even bother to check the newspaper or the radio... I'm really fearful that millions of sites that require cross checking and referencing and trackbacks (without personal responsibility on the part of the poster) doesn't get us very far.

It all comes down, imho, to people keeping their promises and taking responsibility for what they say and do.

Posted by: seth godin | 9 Jun 2004 16:54:08