Monday, January 30, 2006

Blogging is not Cluedo

One of the most annoying traits of a certain kind of A-list blogger is the habit of saying something that sounds deep and mysterious, or not saying anything at all, but leaving it to the reader to read the "clues" and solve the "puzzle" of what your point is. Usually this is a teaser to a subsequent blog post where all is revealed.

Lest I be accused of being obtuse myself, I'll name names: Dave Winer, Doc Searls, and today Om Malik are the worst culprits I can think of. Om makes the outlandish statement that the current "boom" is half over, which is attributable in his mind to a "WHY OF THIS BOOM" which he asks readers to comb through two long, boring articles to decipher.

Let me make this perfectly clear. If you don't support your statements on your blog with easily comprehensible supporting facts and evidence, you're telling your audience that you don't know what you're talking about. The inference in readers' minds is that you don't have the ability to form a coherent, plain argument, so you have to hide behind obfuscation, subterfuge and weasel words. I have not seen a single instance where the idea unveiled by the author has not been a letdown compared to the hype preceding it.

The vast majority of ideas are worth nothing. If your idea's that good, it doesn't need tarting up. Just say what you mean and let your words be judged on merit.


Anonymous Penguinx said...

To see my response, turn to page 63. Read the first letters of every word that is left justified and not tabbed. Therein lies the key.

3:45 pm, January 30, 2006  
Anonymous Rick Burnes said...

Well said. Although I love his blog, I would add Umair Haque to your list...

3:55 pm, January 30, 2006  
Blogger Paul Montgomery said...

Good point Rick. Umair also refers to himself in the third person, which is another sign of a person being up themselves. Paul Montgomery would never do that.

4:23 pm, January 30, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doc asks for other examples. I can't think of one immediately for Doc, but certainly Dave's whole "funky RSS" fiasco was a perfect example of leading the blogosphere on a merry dance, which ended up with everyone getting so pissed off by the lack of straight answers that they went and invented a whole new protocol.

7:26 am, January 31, 2006  
Blogger Paul Montgomery said...

With Doc, the reason I included him was the naming of the Cluetrain Manifesto. It was a great marketing ploy, no doubt, because it created a class of clued up insiders who had worshipped it, and the unwashed masses who hadn't. Its arrogance is part of its charm, but it is still arrogant to assume you have access to important insights that others have to catch a cluetrain to comprehend.

8:39 am, January 31, 2006  
Blogger Doc said...

The Cluetrain name was not a marketing ploy.

Somewhere early in 1999, Chris Locke, David Weinberger and I were talking on a conference call, long before we put up what was to become the Cluetrain website, not sure about exactly what we were going to do, mostly just talking about how we had these observations about What's Going On that we wanted to post somewhere new.

One of us mentioned one especially hopeless company. Another one of us remembered the old Silicon Valley epitaph, "The clue train stopped there ten times a day and they never took delivery." One of us said, "Is that domain name taken? Cluetrain?" Another of us checked, said no, and bought it.

The whole thing took about a minute. The name was a joke as much as anything else. At the time it was like "Okay, that's taken care of. Now, where were we?"

Also, there is no "class of clued up insiders". Nor did (or do) any of the authors "assume you have access to important insights that others have to catch a cluetrain to comprehend."

Look. Cluetrain was a fun rant that took the form of a website and a book, seven years ago. It's obviously a Cool Thing to the authors that it was meaningful to a lot of people, and still seems to have relevance.

But it was never meant to be cultish, or even commercial. We've never monetized it, beyond selling books and (for a brief while) speaking gigs. We never produced any T-shirts or bumper stickers. We never started a Cluetrain company. And we've turned down plenty of offers to do any and all those things. The original site sits there, pretty much looking the same way it has since we stopped updating it five years ago or more.

I'll cop to arrogance. A lot of that was Chris Locke, being his gonzo self. But a lot of it was also, "What the hell? Let's just have fun and blab out some of this stuff we're only talking to each other about." We had nothing to lose, so why not go all-out?

As for posting unsubstantiated stuff on the Web, or laying out "clues" toward "puzzling" points, I still don't know what you're talking about. I have ideas and observations. I post about them.And I try to back up stuff with sources, and give credit where it's due. Mostly I send people elsewhere. I welcome criticism, and I often post and point to it, as I did with your post here, and with another post by Jeneane Sessum today. She made a good point and I agreed with it.

I hope that clears some stuff up. If not, best wishes anyway.

12:19 pm, January 31, 2006  
Blogger Paul Montgomery said...

Thanks for replying, Doc. I admit it's less fair to use you as a target for my rant about puzzles than the others. Your post backs up the arrogance with substance, as always. :P

I still think your book is all about marketing, though, from the title on down. Who else is it primarily aimed at but marketing VPs and PR professionals? That's not a bad thing at all, of course, especially when it leads to nice consulting fees for some lucky clue-ticketmaster. If someone's going to tell them how wrong they are, that someone might as well get paid in full for doing it.

2:16 pm, January 31, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He slams Doc and Dave personally without any "easily comprehensible supporting facts and evidence."

9:28 am, February 07, 2006  

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