The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 January 2006

Prekvetch instruction

Brad Berens, executive editor for iMedia Communications, talks to Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson, and one thing he'd like to know is how to tell the Good Blogs from the Bad Blogs:

On the consumer side, the great thing about blogs and blogging is that any thoughtful, engaged citizen with a browser and an internet connection can become a media voice in just a few minutes. On the corporate side, this is great if the citizen is a thoughtful and engaged customer. But the terrible thing about blogs and blogging is that any meathead with a grudge or too much time on his hands can have the same megaphone. Whose job is it to tell the engaged customers from the meatheads?

Joel Johnson John Brownlee, writing for The Consumerist, takes a stab at it:

A certain degree of cynicism when dealing with the promises of faceless corporate hegemonies is needed to actually appreciate their slickness: these aren't things we need, these are things we want, and therein really lies the allure. When companies can afford to launch multi-million dollar advertising complaints to blunt the sharpness of consumer's complaints, it's important we remain all the more persistent and vigilant in our complaints. But omnivorous, purposeful cynicism devours itself. Because of this, theres an odd contradiction: to be effectively cynical about consumerism, one — at heart — has to be a fair and enthusiastic consumer.

The razor's edge of being a critic is whetted on actually having a great deal of fondness of that which you criticize, and I think it's that fondness which separates the "thoughtful, engaged citizen with a browser" from the "meathead with the microphone". So when Berens asks whose job it is in companies today to separate the one from the other, I think it's a dual responsibility: on one hand, companies need to realize the validity of complaints from consumers, but on the other hand, consumers have an even harder task, because they need to introspectively judge the validity of their own complaints.

Five points off for "hegemonies," a word which grates like Dragon Lady nails on a fresh chalkboard, but otherwise this makes sense. The next question: can this premise be extended to political bloggers? Obviously the "fondness" is present: there's a reason for that term "political junkie," after all. And junkies of both political and shopping persuasions have a distinct tendency to conflate needs and wants. The difference? Government, unlike retail, has no particular incentive to be responsive.

Then again, how much has Dell learned from Jeff Jarvis?

Posted at 4:04 PM to Blogorrhea

If you have a single disgruntled customer that wants to make a lot of noise, you'll end up with a blog that contains nothing but that customer's posts. If you have a real problem that affects many of your customers, that first customer's blog will have a lot of "me too" replies and talkbacks. I think the latter would have a lot more supporting facts and the former would have a lot more opinion. I think the same goes for political blogs (at least the fact/opinion part, political blogs of either bent might get a lot of "me too" posts that add nothing to the topic).

Posted by: Thomas Pfau at 4:21 PM on 5 January 2006

"one thing he'd like to know is how to tell the Good Blogs from the Bad Blogs"


Posted by: Andrea Harris at 4:32 PM on 5 January 2006

Just a correction: Joel Johnson didn't write that, as he's currently "covering" some Vegas porn expo or something. It was me. So those hegemony points should really be coming off of my GPA.

Posted by: John Brownlee at 2:02 AM on 6 January 2006

Fixed, and thanks.

Posted by: CGHill at 6:22 AM on 6 January 2006