« Gettin' Shouty in NYC | Main | For love, or love of money »

Monday, February 05, 2007

Just another lonely, terrorist-like blogger

Loser2_1_1 Dear Dr. Michael Keren:

My colleague Toby Bloomberg directed me to an article covering your book in which you label bloggers "lonely, melancholic, disillusioned" people. While a blow to my fragile ego...I take heart in seeing your findings were based on research spanning a whopping 9 bloggers (out of 55 million).

But who needs statistically sound research when one of your nine subjects discusses her identity through stories of her cats?

In "Blogosphere: A New Political Arena", you declare bloggers as "isolated and lonely, living in a virtual reality instead of forming real relationships or helping to change the world." Living in an energized city such as NYC I don't feel isolated. And while people have certainly described me through different adjectives--and I do have a cat--I've yet to be characterized as socially withdrawn. In addition to labeling us lonely, you also compared bloggers to terrorists. Geez, all I did was log-on this morning and now I'm some loser anarchist misfit.

You say that the community of support is not real but..

  • How real is monetary support? You say the support from communities are not real and just vanish. But when one of our colleagues was in need we didn't vanish, we offered emotional and monetary support. This community is grounded in supporting one another, not vanishing.
  • How real is saving my butt...for free? I've had bloggers give me ideas and their time to help me solve problems with client accounts--decisions which made the difference between a successful project and one that falls flat. You try losing a client and you'll see how real the ramifications can be. Far from vanish, they responded to me in near real-time.
  • How real is being able to find consultants who've made it possible for me to juggle extra work? Through this community I've found experts whom I've hired to help me on client projects that I otherwise couldn't have taken on (and the deliverables were top-notch).

You say no real relationships are formed yet...

  • How real is meeting scores of real people (who are really cool, to boot)?  Through my travels I've met scores of bloggers. What's more? When they come to my city they meet me. Consequently Professor, there's far more to see in NYC than me...but they choose to make time to do so since they too regard these relationships as real and advancing.
  • How about getting to attend conferences full of real people? My exposure through blogging has also enabled me to attend and cover events that I otherwise couldn't have--events brimming with valuable contacts, colleagues and potential clients.
  • How real is helping other bloggers? I've been the recipient of and happily given advice and promotion to other bloggers; it's something we do for one another because seeing one another succeed is just plain satisfying to us.

You've said many things but how about answering...

  • Perhaps it's not really real because it's not relevant to you? Maybe you don't find the new systems valid because they're not natural to you. While a cross-section of ages use social media, the younger generations find these tools to be especially natural in communications and relationship-building simply because they've been raised with them.  I tried to learn more about your views but couldn't find your blog...could it be that you don't have one? 
  • You say we don't help to change the world but can't you see the world changing before you? The first step in any movement (or revolution) is organizing communities and creating systems for those communities to communicate, and take action. With the sheer mass of people building and bolstering online communities--with no borders like countries between them and limited barriers to access them--highly engaged communities are forming around various disciplines, causes and interests. To think those communities won't enact change--be those changes social, political or economical--is altogether short-sighted.

Dsc00525_3Perhaps your work was limited to personal bloggers vs. business bloggers but I hope you'll give marketing blogger Toby Bloomberg the respect of a response to her letter. You'll find her both informative and friendly--as well as connected to various communities (far greater in number than nine bloggers). In fact, I'll be contacting you to help ensure that you do.

Until then, I guess I'll just sit lonely at my blog. Hey, at least I've got my cat...

Sincerely,

Just another lonely, terrorist-like blogger

P.S.: Do yourself a favor and review the responses from bloggers as to the value they find through this medium.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Great letter. That should teach her not to attribute perceived personal attributes to a dispersed entity as large and dynamic as the blogosphere is.

How intelligent would it be to assume an entire 50 square mile swap meet is just full of rubbish and self-absorbed vendors, if one only strolls past nine booths, doesn't bother to pick up a map, nor ask perhaps someone who might know: "Where can I find a good..."?

even if i prefer dogs to cats, i agree on everything you point out. if real support is a pat on your back, well we are not real, but if personal and emotional engaments are supportive, well we are definitely real. and by the way this is a new evidence against focus groups.

Can we just agree to get rid of focus groups?

This is a great post, CK! Even if Michael Keren\\\'s focus was individuals, he seems not to understand the dynamics of writing and community. And he certainly does not seem to understand the living archive aspect of blogs ... where something written two years ago can be read and commented upon as if it was written yesterday.

I have certainly been the recipient of rapid and sincere emotional support from across the world. My family have been amazed at how this emotional support spilled over into something more tangible ... literally within hours. Did it change THE world? No. Did it change ours? Irrevocably. For the better!

If Professor Keren labels me a misfit, so be it. I embrace the characterization. I'd much rather be a blogging misfit who connects with myself and others via our words rather than the harshly judgmental sort.

(Note to self: Must acquire cat....)

Great points CK! Beyond my personal experiences, I've learned through likemind -- http://likemind.us (gotta plug it :) ) -- that there are a lot of bloggers out there who are far from lonely. In fact, most of the bloggers I know personally are far more social than the non-bloggers. Part of why they do this is to make connections and meet new people.

I love it CK! The picture really brings it home ;)

I think that blogging, by its very nature, is social and brings connectors together especially in business blogging. Outside of angst-ridden teenagers who blog about their XBox or sit alone listening to the Cure (or whatever those kids listen too nowadays) I think we're a social bunch.

I have two dogs, I wonder if I fit the profile?

Attacks against the blogosphere are always grossly uninformed, which is ironic since bloggers are vastly more informed than non-bloggers on most any topic you wish to throw out there.

Attacking the blogosphere is easy and fun for the whole totalitarian family. To mock the blogosphere is simple, just make up an accusation, and let it fly.

Mikey Kern:

You are a doctor of deception, a junky journalist, an unpromising professional, so people will believe you, based on your immaculate outmoded "credentials" as your entire industry decreases in credibility.

You, O Blog Defiler, have no ground of being, no mission statement to stand upon.

Lies and distortions from the silly article:

[QUOTE]

Blogs, short for web logs, are everywhere on the Internet these days and often reveal the innermost feelings of individuals who hate their jobs, activists with a political cause or even angst-ridden teenagers in the throes of first love.

[END QUOTE]

THIS is the dead giveaway that we have entered Journalistic La La Land: a rash (unedited, pajama clad?) definition of "blog" and "blogger" as digital diarists.

Blogs are weapons of mass deconstruction against rotting disinformation systems.

Tell Dan Rather and Trent Lott there's nothing but "love lorn teens" and personal drivel in the blogs.

Bloggers Swarm Against This Jerk!

Let 'em have it, CK! That will teach him to generalize too hastily. :)

Yeah Cam, go buddy!

There are good reasons for these schmucks to fear us bloggers. Let's "geet er dunn".

Hey all you lonely-loser-terrorists: Thank you for voicing-in (my lonely self needed the boost; the cat just requests you send tuna).

I thank Toby for uncovering this for me; my jaw just dropped when I read his quotes. So many great points above:

Vaspers: Indeed we are more informed than most, great point. I like your note to the 'Doctor of Deception'...I'd love to see him go a few rounds with you.

Gav: Yep, we have made change and with more consumers coming online co's are having to let go of more control--that's change.

Matt: You hit on it; it IS social by its very nature. Yes, even with dogs, you too can be a loser like us.

Noah: We're an incredibly social bunch and yes, through groups like Likemind we're getting together offline.

Ann: Well said, I'll embrace the characterization, too...hey, it's the first time I can regard myself as anti-social ;-).

Cam: People just need to generalize I guess; such a shame as this guy is clearly missing out and out-of touch as a result.

CK,

Let's cut right to the chase: What's wrong with being a misfit and loving cats? I take great pride in possessing those characteristics. Too bad I'm not lonely. Then the good professor may have used me in his book.

Dear Professor,
You might discover that the blogosphere not only generates loving and caring communities of people who are real, not virtual, and you might learn something, if you actually spent a year investigating the subject.

Oh, wait. Research isn't important within your hallowed halls; publish or perish; in your case, perhaps both. Before writing your next book, try picking a subject you know something about.

CK - Thanks for continuing the conversation and thanks to your community for demonstrating loud and clear that bloggers, while they may have a cat on their laps when posting, are not waiting on-line for life to happen to them. But are actively making life happen off-line and on! See you at BlogHer in March where we will toast to our "real" friendship with a martini or appletini or 2 ;-)

I've read a few rebuttals to this guy's "report". Yours, CK, was hands down the tightest. Nicely done.

Signed,

Lonely in Montreal ;)

Keren's just jealous because he's missed the boat ;-)

From a marketing standpoint you have to admit that the 'bloggers are terrorists' press release is a winner. He's punched our buttons and we've responded by giving him a ton of free publicity. Controversy can be a good way to generate some buzz. It might even sell a few books.

Funny aside: I just noticed that Google's toolbar spell checker doesn't know the word "bloggers."

Lewis: Right on.
Toby: My pleasure.
Mark: That means a lot.
Fritz: He did miss the boat. The old belief was "any press is good press" but that's not actually true....look at what happened to the O.J. book that just got ripped because the public revolted. The problem with this book is:
a) faulty research methods
b) the first tenet of writing is "write what you know" - this author apparently hasn't even interacted with the blogosphere (where is his blog?)
c) when you write nonfiction you've a responsibility to support your judgments...how can he support any judgment based solely on feedback from 9 bloggers?

And there seems that NO spell-check accepts "blog","bloggers", "blogposphere" or "podcast". We bloggers have been griping over it for a while...not even Typepad accepts it - oy!

CK,

Hmm. Lonely? I don't know how in the heck bloggers would have time to be lonely. We are the leaders of major corporations, authors, small business owners, educators, stay at home parents, lawyers and just about everyone in between.

Using Michael's same research techniques (a la, thinking about the bloggers I know/have met) I would cross out the world lonely and write in all caps INTENSE!

That's what I find we all have in common. A passion and intensity for life. We can't just go along for the ride. We need to help set the course. We are intense doers, intense thinkers, intense relationship builders, intense supporters and intense about the people in our professional and personal world.

I believe that blogging is, for many of us, an outlet for that intensity. It lets us capture and express the intensity, share it, watch others help us re-shape it...while it gains energy and power from the collaboration.

That power, from the interaction, re-fills our tanks...so we can keep our intensity levels where they are most comfortable -- helping set the course.

Of course, the biggest question for me is, how do you dress up a black lab to look like a cat?

Drew

Oh when the telephone first came out, it was probably just love lorn teens using it to gossip about mushy trivia that had no revolutionary core to it. Sure.

CK - you rock girl. You have my full fake-blogger-community-friend support in your mission to educate "the professor".

SWAK from Boston,
-Lori

Drew: We are INTENSE (all caps) and good call on blogging being an outlet. As for your black Lab, just put a big ol' red bow on him ;-). My cat was just loving that action but she had to look good for her pic.

Lori: You are too much goodness. How can the Prof argue with the likes of you? To which I say: SWAK back at ya, baby.

CK,

Great blog. Way to stick up for us bloggers (even the rookies like myself). And hey, reading this post gave me yet another set of ideas for how I can use my blog for business enhancement. Thank you!

BWAHAHAHA!!!!! Love the pic, is that Madilynn's blogging debut?

Now I'm jealous that I didn't know your cat's name. But, now I do. :)

Great post, CK. And my thought? This guy is a moron. Has he seen or used MySpace? Or Facebook? How about YouTube? Or Digg? How about Flickr?

Has he read Techcrunch? How about Perez Hilton?

How about Richard Edelman? Or any other corporate blogger?

How about the NY Times or any one of the thousands of newspapers across the world embracing blogs?

The point is, millions and millions of people are either blogging or using the tools of blogging, whether it's about social issues, politics, business, or just what's going on for a Saturday night. This guy is simply out of touch, and probably not worth our time.

I could practically kick myself for saying this, but Paul is right; the guy isn't worth our time to talk about.

Clearly, the "Prof" is as uninformed as one could possibly be. 9 blogs are the basis of a book? WTF? I would've gotten an F on a paper like that in High School... and yet he got his book published? I need to talk to that publisher because they are obviously desperate for content. Jeesh.

The community of bloggers I know, which is pretty big I think, is anything but lonely and pathetic. There are many brilliant minds I get to speak to and have developed great relationships with. All through blogging.

Poor Professor Clueless, I hope he finally wakes up from his strange little dream and has a cup of coffee. He needs to come out of his cave.

Not that I don't agree with most of what's been written in response to Keren's flawed premise, BUT the blogosphere has just handed him more credibility than he probably ever dreamed of; although the attention was negative, in our attention driven world, even negative attention is a gift.

You have an academic publishing ethnographic-like observations and interviews among a ridiculously small and non-representative sample, who makes faulty generalizations about an entire population that he doesn't demonstrate he knows anything about...why should this be given any credence?

The institution that he is associated with should be the loudest voice taking exception to his book.

The volume of protest unfortunately runs the risk of communicating that his premise and his credentials to state it, were taken seriously enough for a large number of very credible and incredibly smart bloggers to take the time to refute.

The good news is that all the wonderful things about blogging were once again circulating by the most passionateand articulate voices...to bad we gave someone a free ride.

Marianne

Hi Marianne: I do agree that his institution should be questioning his work product--VERY good point as he is reflective of their own product (and the minds they shape). Absolutely.

But I don't think we've given him a free ride. We've called attention to how skewed his research--and ergo, his premise--are and we've been able to, en masse, build a case that debunks his.

Actually, I view the err or his ways as an exemplary opportunity for bloggers to showcase the value of this medium (smarts/work), and the valuable relationships forged as a result. You see, without having his work to 'rally' against we just sound like we're fighting for credibility. In this case we had an opportunity to present ours with proof against his. Sometimes we should thank those that trespass against us, eh?

But I do want you to know that I hear what you're saying...as well as Tim's and Paul's opinions, too. Sure, he's gotten a lot of attention--but I doubt that fleeting platform will lead to increasing his reputation. I'm just not a believer of "any press is good press". Never have been.

Paul & Tim: I think I addressed your good comments through responding to Marianne. I hear you guys, too. If it weren't such a new medium--remember, it's new to 99% of the world--it likely wouldn't be worth our time, but at this point in its infancy and where it's very much still under a skeptical microscope I do think it is.

CK,

Well, here is what I mean...take a step back for a moment and ask yourself who his audience is and then ask yourself who is participating in and reading the rebuttals.

The latter as no doubt you will agree, is the choir, preaching to the converted. The former?

Well I am really not sure who his intended target is but I would guess that those nodding their heads while reading (if anyone is actually reading, including us) are those narrow minded types who can only think in sweeping generalizations as ridiculous as "all bloggers are" and who probably don't get and won't get the benefits and outcomes of blogging.

But who do you think his intended audience is? Those not blogging who won't want to because the 9 people he spoke to are lonley. Its just not a very comppelling case.

And its not that I think any press is good press...its just that links drive the search engines and we have helped his visbility and thereby his credability. And people are just not always that thorough...to read exactly what was written about him; as time passes, the links and citations may look like attention, not all that distinguishable from negative attention.

Marianne

Hi Marianne (I was hoping you'd come back ;-).

Target audience: Being that I understand Keren is a Prof. of Communications (yikes!), my thinking is that his audience are student-age demos. But then again, it could skew older. If it's student age then I'm thinking they're social-media savvy so they're reading both sides--especially since it seems it's not just marketing sites covering Keren's book. If older, who knows if they're reading these given MySpace is astoundingly high in older demos (like 45% are over 30-35). They may or may not be seeing these rebuttals.

Rankings: Yup, we're definitely giving him a BIG boost. But here's food for thought: Without the rebuttals, it's likely a reader is pointed to his review/his side. Now the chances are far greater they're pointed to a rebuttal. And it's a greater chance the press will see a rebuttal (my hope, anyhow). What I worked to do in my post was to list some value points from this medium so in the case the press or new readers review this, they can see real ROI from this medium (not just a gripe to the Prof). You say they may not read the rebuttals thoroughly, that is true--the best we can do is to write a compelling case for them to want to read them.

To post or not to post...that is the question: Your good thoughts made me think on two recent posts of mine. One was on the O.J. book. Several said to me that I shouldn't have voiced my disgust because I gave him more exposure...but the book was pulled due to the consumer backlash. The other post was on MSoft trying to rig the Wikipedia process. So we could argue, in telling MSoft they did a no-no, I was boosting their rankings--but it was to voice a best practice and a MSoft no-no. Thus the question becomes, I think (cuz you've got me thinking on this), do I not reference those who've violated best practices or printed bogus findings due to concerns I'll give them better rankings/cred/exposure? The answer for me, at this point and time, is 'no' since I cover best practices and poor practices here along with my own findings.

I do see that keeping quiet and voicing concern both have consequences. Guess I find the negative consequences of staying quiet outweigh those of speaking up. Thanks for (always) making me think. Sorry that was long.

CK,

Thanks for the discussion..all good points!

Really the thing that is the most astounding to me about Prof. K. is that ANYONE, let alone an academic, would offer up 9 people as representative of millions; it is simply preposterous!

But then again, the OJ book deal defied logic also....ok most everything about OJ defies logic. But you make a great point by mentioning that the deal was pulled because of public backlash.

Regarding his target...maybe this is one of his problems also; he doesn't really seem to have a clear cut audience, does he? That's a good thing!

Marianne

Marianne: It does defy logic, indeed. I can't figure out his audience either.

What keeps hitting me is your point of how his academic institution should be speaking up, their reputation is tarnished as well from the Prof's faulty research. An excellent point you raised that I didn't think of. Excellent.

There aren't any right/wrong answers here; just opinion--and as you show, there are consequences to whichever action we take. I just thank you immensely for giving me so much to think about. This discussion with you has been one of the most valuable I've had in this medium; I mean that. Owe you a martini at Blogher!

CK,

I totally enjoyed the discussion...there is always great conversations going on here that make me think. Ultimate irony that a professor wouldn't get that part of blogging, isn't it?

I will look forward to the Martini!

Marianne

The comments to this entry are closed.