November 12, 2005

Not all journalists are stupid

Just to prove that this blog is balanced, and in the interests of demonstrating that some journalists still manage to earn their keep by delivering solid, reasoned, investigative reporting, I encourage you to peruse “Why There’s No Escaping the Blog”, by David Kirkpatrick and Daniel Roth, published in Fortune magazine.

The first thing you’ll notice about this excellent piece is that is was published in January of this year, and for those of you with fewer than the normally allocated number of digits, that's a full 10 months prior to the rather stupid cover story by Lyons, published in Forbes magazine this month(see previous post). Apart from anything else, this tells us that Lyons either did not research other published articles, or if he did, he managed to learn nothing from his betters.

Using a very wide range of examples, Kirkpatrick & Roth illuminate the trials and tribulations and the, err, *cough*, just plain embarrassing forays by the corporate business world into the land of the blogosphere. The key premise of their article is that blogs are, essentially, a new medium (well, they say “media”, but I think blogs are more singular than plural, at this point), and business needs to harness and engage with the producers and consumers of blogs; a somewhat more challenging proposition than the ease with which they engage with the MSM. In contrast to the Forbes article, Kirkpatrick & Roth present something of a “how to” and “how not to” guide, with considerable depth to it, and they present both amusing and serious examples amidst their smorgasbord of material.

There are only a couple of twee moments, for example:

“Of course, it's difficult to take the phenomenon seriously when most blogs involve kids talking about their dates, people posting pictures of their cats, or lefties raging about the right (and vice versa).”

It’s an asinine statement, and an especially careless throw-away line, when their own commentary demonstrates the serious clout wielded by some political blogs, and just how swiftly blogs can inflict mortal injury, not with scurrilous opinion and lies, but by the use of facts that spread like ebola, at least in America.

Actually it’s quite a clunker of a line, when their entire article takes blogs very seriously indeed, and their material cites blog content relating to business and politics – not an ugly cat or pimply teenager blog in sight.

As for teenagers talking about their "dates"? I don’t know that I’ve even seen any such blogs, and while I don’t doubt for a nanosecond there are millions of them, I think you’d have to be looking for that particular segment to know it exists.

Most of the “dating” blogs are clearly published by 30-something-year-old women, who, for some reason, think that their blog is the next “Sex in the City”. Perhaps they’re right; perhaps their day will come, but from what I’ve seen, it won’t be in this millennium. One exception is a 30-something divorcee in New York, who writes tortuous prose about things like her "tangled hair, after sex" and insists on mulling over every vapid and juvinille emotion and the-minute-by-minute relationship worries that pass through her brain; and spills her inglorious guts about every teeny detail about every man she encounters. (And yes, she DOES regularly wonder if a new man will stay around for more than a shortish while. Gosh, now let me think about that….very, very, very, slooooowwwwly, and I’ll get back to you.) Her own excrementally gushing is greeted by equally vomitous and sentimental drivel from her legions of fans, most of whom seem to want to be able to “write like she can”, as this would clearly be the height of their life’s achievement. Well, this particular lady does have her book deal. Can’t take this “seriously” guys? Serious bucks in that nifty, if misguided, book deal.

People posting cat pictures? Oh, yes, oh yes!!! This should be a crime of some sort, and anyone doing such should be banished from the blogosphere for a period of time, depending on the extent and gravity of the crime. I hasten to add that I believe the same principle should be applied to anyone – but it’s always women – displaying photos of their damned cats on their desk, or pinned up on the partitions around their desk at work. At a minimum they, and their cat photographs, should be escorted from the building by security, and they should be required to take unpaid leave, until such time that they understand WHY there is something gravely wrong and hideously offensive about decorating one’s workspace with their “adorable” CATS. They’re CATS for gawd sake!!! I don't CARE if you don't have a boyfriend; haven't had sex in the last 12 years; don't have children or friends; and I don't CARE if even the guy at the petrol station with one glass eye wouldn't look at you once- you absolutely DO NOT have permission to EVER display CAT photographs in public places and try to pass this off as being your LIFE, your FAMILY, your JOY, the source of your FULFILLMENT, your REASON for existence. NO-ONE BELIEVES YOU.

The worst case of cat-blogging I have seen was a woman recording her dieting efforts. There was a lovely photo of her & her husband, from when she was slimmer, and a link to “more photos”, which I naturally clicked, in order to view the new larger version of her good-self, and the progressive shots as she made strides with her diet - at least that's what I was expecting. Hundreds of photographs, hundreds and hundreds of them; page after page after page of HER CAT, the tedium broken only by a rare photo of a person. Her cat on the couch; her cat on the floor; her cat in the sun; her cat in the shade; her cat sleeping (well, that was MOST of them); her cat in summer; her cat in winter; her cat curled up; her cat sprawled out. Her fucking cat was the most boring ordinary cat in the world and I only needed ONE photograph to work that out. And quite frankly, I don’t care if she remains a porker for the rest of her life; never returning to her lovely svelte self, it’s probably a punishment dished out by the goddesses for wasting her life taking photos of a cat, especially when she had a perfectly nice looking husband to play with.

As I said, it was a stupid throw-away line by the journalists, and entirely inaccurate. What about the religious blogs? They are proliferating rapidly, albeit, many combine their religious fervor with a political agenda. Religion is growing in the blogosphere with nearly the same speed as the sex blog. Hobby and recipe blogs are all over the place; as are blogs about niche enjoyments such as heavy metal music; lots of techo blogs; an increasing number of “consumer” blogs, with people trying to cash-in by doing nothing but product reviews; mental illness is huge; and, of course, there are an embarrassing smattering of bloggers who really, transparently, and desperately, want to be in the MSM, and who seem to genuinely believe that their entirely untrained writing talents, and their ignorant and distorted opinion will one day be picked-up and syndicated by newspapers across the land, inclusive of their indifferent wit, and as-enticing-as-a-limp-lettuce contrived persona. The latter, very small group, is more difficult to take seriously than all of the cat blogs combined.

The only other excruciatingly twee moment comes care of an ad agency – so none of us should be in the least surprised:

"If you fudge or lie on a blog, you are biting the karmic weenie," says Steve Hayden, vice chairman of advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather, which creates blogs for clients."

It’s safe for us to conclude, without any futher evidence being presented to the court, that the vice chairman of Ogilvy & Mather is a weenie. But, he’s right about one thing:

"The negative reaction will be so great that, whatever your intention was, it will be overwhelmed and crushed like a bug.”
Sounds suspiciously like a man who knows exactly how it feels like to be crushed by the blogosphere. He goes on to say:

“You're fighting with very powerful forces because it's real people's opinions."
Yes Steve, real people; real people who have real opinions. Not pretend people like in the make believe advertising world. Funny 'bout that. Welcome to the real world Steve.


  1. Caz,

    As the saying goes, tell us how you really feel. Nice counterpoint to the piece below. I don't know shit about blogs, blogging, or, especially, business blogs, but (sorry) I know what I like, and it isn't single-woman or teen-dating blogs, or blogs that try to sell me crap.

    Unless, of course, it's a teen-dating, single-woman, or sell-me-crap blog that's written forcefully, engagingly, wittily and (gulp) reasonably grammatically. Then I might hang around.

    But cat-bloggers? I share your disgust. And so does my dog Billy Bob.

  2. Oh for Christ's--here's the address:

  3. Blog alert! Blog alert! Mr Drunkablog, with occasional guest appearances, in the comments, by the delightful Mrs Drunka, can always be found lurking under my links to highly recommended bloggers – Drunka is second on the list, straight after Mr Evil. Do look him up, and be sure to click on any links as you read through his posts, as they add, umm, err, let’s see.....colour and movement and depth, and a certain degree of depravity, to his stories.

    His dog, as already alluded to, is clever and handsome and photogenic. Unlike cats.

    I read in today’s newspaper that Master Foods have done a survey, which found that MOST people “favoured cats”. Felines received 63,134 votes, while the doggy-kingdom only received 27,403 votes. LIES! LIES I TELL YOU! IT’S A CONSPIRACY!!

  4. Come on Caz, how can you possibly argue with the towering authority of an opinion-pollster like Masterfoods?

    I like cats. I just prefer dogs. And I agree, those numbers sound like a crock-o-shite.

    PS. the verification word is phonetically viable! "stimey"! Remarkable!

  5. Well, I try to ensure all aspects of my entirely off-the-shelf blog is always remarkable James! As do we all.

    Phew - the pressure was building, in a really ugly way, for a few seconds there James; I thought you would have to be dumped – over the icky matter of cats. Relieved to hear to that you PREFER dogs. It could have been a sad, but nasty, parting of ways.

    Blog alert two!! Do stop by and visit James, at the whimsical “The Daily Constitutional”. No doggy pics, but that’s okay, he has lots of other stuff.

  6. Caz, I hate to do this to you, but I've got my cat, and I've posted a pic of her on my blog.

    Evil does good things with kitten pics, and I'm sure there are blokes out there with pics of the kitties.

    I prefer a dog to a cat, but a cat is lower maintenance at the moment, and she is also a psycho-cat. That makes it okay, of course.

    My preference, though, is for a rat. I've always wanted a brown one that I can call Basil.

    For years I had a bird-eating spider, and she rocked. I still miss her. She was even the star of a film I shot.

    Mind you, I still don't get the cats + blog equation.

  7. Oooohhhh the SHAME!!!! How could you DO this?!!! Couldn't you at least have posted anonymously!?

    WE must NOT, I repeat NOT place Mr Evil's magificent beasty-cats in battle in the same category as yeh average moggie. This would be most disrespectful of his artistic productions.

    Please, tell me you weren't serious about the bird-eating-spider thing - as a PET? Euuuwwwww.

  8. I've been doing Cat Blog Fridays for a while now. I try to make them interesting, but let's face it, you don't always have a forged memo story, or a Sandy Berger suffing documents into his pants story, etc.. Sometimes cats are all you got.

  9. cube - for you, and only you, and because you've got me sobbing into my gin & tonic, all is forgiven. If a cat is all you've got to offer up to the blogosphere *sob* then *sob* that's okay. In fact, it's better than okay, because otherwise we'd have to toss you out of the party, and, *sob* now that I've heard your side of the story *sob* I can see just how *sob* heartless that would be. You and your cat can stay for as long *sob* as you want to, even on days when you can't come up with any new poses.

    Now you'll excuse me while I go and clean myself up & pull myself together.

  10. Yes, caz, I am serious about the spider. She was called Uma, and is probably still whooping it up at the Melbourne Zoo where I deposited her when I got pregnant.

    LOL I wanted to keep her, but I got so much nagging from my dad about her that I caved.

    You wouldn't believe it - these things cost about $100 to buy, and when I was trying to give her away, all I met was suspicion.

    Why are you getting rid of the spider? Where did you get her? Why did you have her?

    FFS anyone would think I was trying to sell the kid!

  11. OMG! We'll all have to remember to visit and give our best regards to Nilk's spider next time we visit Melbourne zoo.

    Uma, okay, so she'll be the attractive and very large spider, whooping it up in style; don't forget to say hello to her!

  12. How sporting of you. Yes, today is Friday and yes, I posted another gratuitous cat pic!

    BTW I'm concerned about your crying jag...I'd have my lacrimal glands checked if I were you, just to be on the safe side ;-)