Blogs are so over, Wired magazine says

Hey, didn’t you hear? Blogs are so 2004. They’re dead now, says Paul Boutin (who also writes for Valleywag) in a piece he wrote for Wired magazine. Here’s his argument (such as it is) in a nutshell:

“The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths.

It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother? The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.”

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Arrington and Wired: Keyboards at dawn

I know everyone is tsk-tsk-ing and waggling their forefingers disapprovingly at Mike Arrington for his response to Wired magazine’s drive-by blog attack on TechCrunch and its Washington Post partnership, but I for one am quite enjoying it. I actually thought Mike was pretty restrained in his latest post — and for what it’s worth, I took his Twitter message saying “eff you” to Wired as largely a joke (and apparently one fueled by drinks at the Time 100 party).

For whatever reason, Betsy Schiffman (who as far as I can tell used to be a Forbes real estate writer, and before that was at Associated Press) either has a grudge of some kind or has been implicitly or explicitly told to go after TechCrunch. I mean, come on: a “Butt Munch” category? As far as I can tell, the category applies specifically to Arrington — and Dylan Tweney of Epicenter has effectively confirmed that.

In any case, the Washington Post thing was totally offside, especially since Epicenter is clearly a competitor to TechCrunch. In my view, it was a mean-spirited jab, and I don’t blame Mike for responding the way he did. As far as I can tell, opinion seems split on whether it’s Mike’s fault for escalating things or whether Wired was in the wrong — and some people seem to be voting for both.

A tribute to Wired magazine, age 15

I know I should be writing about Microsoft and Yahoo, but I confess that I find the whole thing so mind-numbingly boring that I would be asleep before I made it through another post about two gigantic, boring companies merging into one gigantic, boring company. So I thought I would point instead to a fantastic post by my friend Rex Sorgatz of Fimoculous about Wired magazine in honour of it turning 15 this month.

As I admitted in a comment on Rex’s post, I have a complete collection of Wired magazines from the very first issue all the way up to the mid-1990s, when it got huge and boring (much like Microsoft and Yahoo). My wife gives me grief every time we move, because there are about three boxes full of magazines — and those suckers are heavy. The magazines themselves are somewhat moldy and wrinkled in spots because our basement flooded a few years ago. Eventually I will throw them out, I suppose.

But sometimes it’s fun to flip one open and look at what we were so excited about all those years ago: the 14.4 modems and “virtual reality” and a magazine called bOING bOING (like anyone would read something with a dumb name like that). All the bigs were on the masthead, like Nicholas Negroponte and Kevin Kelly from Whole Earth Magazine — which I confess I also have a few issues of — and the WELL.

Rex is right when he says that the design didn’t really take hold for a couple of years, but it was pretty damn cool even in the first issue. And it had way more meat than Mondo 2000 (which I also have a few issues of). I have another admission: I applied for a job at Wired in 1993, when I was a business writer in Toronto, because I thought it would be so cool to write for them. The first of many rejection letters 🙂


Founding editor Louis Rossetto responded to Rex’s post.

Now those are some geek dads

Wired magazine has been adding blogs over the past little while, and one of the new ones that I haven’t checked out until recently is GeekDad. Last night I took a look at it (after someone in the TorCamp “chat swarm” on Skype mentioned it), and it’s a pretty good read — and very eclectic. So I scanned the list of authors, and noticed some familiar names, including:

  • Chris Anderson, Wired magazine’s editor-in-chief
  • Steve Jurvetson, founding partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson
  • Kevin Kelly, editor at large for Wired magazine
  • Warren Packard, managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson
  • Thomas Hawk, CEO of Zooomr
  • Adam Grosser of Foundation Capital
  • Andrew Anker, general manager of Six Apart
  • Todd Lappin, inventor of the Telstar Logistics parking scam

All in all, quite a high-powered list of geek dads. I will definitely be keeping an eye on what they post, even if all my youngest daughter cares about right now is Webkinz — which the Globe had a story about today.

Wired’s Digg slam is offside

The story in Wired magazine entitled “I bought votes on Digg” shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. Not only has the service used by the author — an automated voting system called User/Submitter — been written about before, but anyone who has paid any attention over the past six months to a year knows that there are problems with the Digg model.

entrapment.jpgThe site has had issues with people “gaming” it pretty much since inception, and there has been a back-and-forth battle between Kevin Rose, Digg spammers and the top Digg submitters for some time now. Digg recently removed the top Diggers list in an attempt to cut down on the incentive for gaming, but as Scott Karp notes in a recent post at Publishing 2.0, there is still an incentive to vote up sites like the fake blog that Wired cooked up for its story, because doing so gets you reputation points if the link becomes popular and moves to the front page. Muhammad Saleem of The Mu Life has written about these issues many times.

So the Wired magazine piece isn’t exactly a surprise. That wouldn’t be noteworthy, except for the fact that — as Mike Arrington at TechCrunch reminds us — Wired magazine is part of a publishing company, CondeNast, that owns one of Digg’s main competitors: namely, Reddit. The story mentions the ownership issue parenthetically, but I still think it’s offside. Unlike Mike, I don’t think Digg should sue Wired, but I do think it looks bad for a magazine to cook up an event to make a company look bad, and then write about that event, when a sister company is a major competitor.

I would compare the story written by Annalee Newitz (a freelance writer who used to be a policy analyst with the Electronic Freedom Foundation, according to the bio on her blog) with the kind of “sting” that newspapers write when they sneak knives aboard a plane to show how lax security is. The only difference, of course, is that in most of those cases, the newspaper’s parent company doesn’t own a competing airline.

Wired’s piece for me crosses a line. If the story had been about some neutral third party that hired User/Submitter, then that would be one thing. But Wired effectively perpetrated the sting itself, and that smells bad to me.


Ms. Newitz’s story is a companion piece to this article entitled “Herding the Mob,” which is about reputation hacking on sites like Digg and eBay. There’s also a third piece about Digg by another author that is part of the same package, called “Hunting Down the Bury Brigade.”

Further reading:

Ed Felten of Freedom to Tinker has some worthwhile thoughts about manipulating reputation systems here, and Tony Hung of Deep Jive Interests — also a veteran Digg watcher — has a post here. Frantic Industries also thinks Wired is playing on the wrong side of the tracks with this one, and Robyn Tippins at Sleepyblogger takes a crack at it as well.