February 15, 2005

Incredibly Bad Piece on Blogging

Blogging is all fun and games, until the boss finds out - Feb. 14, 2005

This article from CNN/Money tries to make a point -- possibly even a valid one -- by using facts not in evidence. Because I'm in a ticked-off mood tonight, and want to get on someone's case, I'm going to rant a little about the article attached.

Let's start out:

Mark Jen landed a dream job with Google Inc. in January. He was fired less than a month later. His infraction? He ran a Web log, where he freely gabbed about his impressions of life at the Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet search giant.

Actually, his infraction was not that he "gabbed about his impressions", but that he posted financial details about the company... which he posted a few days ago, plenty of time to correct. He did state that his blog was the direct cause, so there's a point in the favor of the article.

Except that's the only mention of Jen in the entire article. Bleah! If you bring up people and can't contact them, bring them up as footnotes, not as part of the lede.

Web logs, or blogs, the online personal diaries where big names and no names expound on everything from pets to presidents, are going mainstream. While still a relatively small piece of total online activity, blogging has caught on with affluent young adults. As Forrester Research analysts recently noted, blogging will become increasingly common as these consumers age.

I'll take this roving paragraph one sentence at a time. First, "blogs" has entered Miriam-Webster 's dictionary, so identifying them as coming from the term "web logs" is like saying "telephone, coming from the Latin root tele- and -phono"; it's a pointless exercise. Calling blogging "diary writing" is pretty sure to piss off bloggers as demeaning. The "big names and no names expound on everything from pets to presidents": my, my. Sounds fantastic, but it's an illiteration with no solid grounding. If you're trying to say it's a growing trend, say "blogging is a trend gaining popularity in the US". Oh, and "going mainstream?" Dumb phrase, it's meaningless. First, because they've been mainstream for a while now -- pretty much since last year, when the presidential elections highlighted them.

Next, "While still a relatively small piece of total online activity" is very misleading. Let's skip the fact it's part of the pointness "this is a growing trend" thought alluded to in prior paragraphs. "Total online activity" is a fake statistic. There is no one definition of "total online activity", because "online activity" could mean a lot of things. "Online activity" sounds like it means "data run through the Internet", but could also mean "web sites that are available" or "number web sites requests". The data definition is closest to true, simply because blogs are web pages -- and web pages are (usually) small, in the 10-30kb range. (By comparison, P2P networks serve much larger files; most often upwards of 1 mb. 10,000 10k page requests gets overshadowed by 2 50mb requests on P2P sites.) The second and third possible definitons are hard to tell, as there's no solid way to tell either. There's no way for a web server to tell what's a blog and what's not, so telling the number, or how many page requests are made of weblogs, is difficult.

Whoops; almost forgot the "affluent young adults". No one has any statistics on this, so saying that it's only affluent young adults is a lie, but also, the sentence before says that it's "big names and no names". So it's either just yuppies, or it's everyone.

Finally, "As Forrester Research analysts recently noted, blogging will become increasingly common as these consumers age." I'm guessing that Forrester did research on it. But the paragraph is about proving that this is a trend *now*, not that it will be a trend later. Although this is good for what follows -- aiming towards proving that this will be as big a problem for companies and employees in the future as it is now -- it's not good in this paragraph, aiming towards establishing it as a growing trend now.

I'll skip a little and hit a lower paragraph:

Even though employee blogging ranks behind personal Internet and e-mail use at work, Google and other companies are starting to crack down.

Immediately after this comes 3 instances of employees being fired not for blogging at work, but for, in order, showing a picture of herself in company uniform, writing about company details, and taking a picture of something that they didn't like. None of them were blogging at work -- the last one, points that he was let go for a posting to his weblog, not for doing it at work. Know the facts.

In recent months Apple Computer has launched legal attacks against operators of at least three Internet sites -- not run by Apple employees -- that allegedly posted or linked to information that the Cupertino, Calif., maker of the iPod portable music player claims is proprietary.

This one I'm going to slap down hard: if they're not run by Apple employees, WHY BRING IT UP? Also, if you take a look, two of these were "rumor" sites, not really "blogs"; the third, a long-running news site -- mis-referenced (Powerpage.com is actually http://www.powerpage.org). All of these sites are attempting to be more professional, even applying for press credentials and such. So it's neither workplace related, nor blog related.

There's more, but my hands hurt. It's a poorly worded, badly researched article. CNN and Money should be ashamed.

Posted by Ted Stevko at February 15, 2005 01:57 AM | TrackBack