Geek Opinion

Forbes Magazine Takes On Blog World with ‘Attack of the Blogs’, Loses

Recently, I was at the gym and grabbed Forbes magazine to read while I did the Alpine Pass on the upright bike. For the ride I would have much preferred a magazine of the trashier sort (e.g. US Weekly, In Touch), but since no such celeb-crazy mags were available I grabbed for the mag with the intriguing cover. The cover was emblazoned with the lede “Attack of the Blogs.”

Even given the not so positive cover title, I was shocked by the biased, obviously unresearched, and ignorant content of Daniel Lyons’ article. The short introductory paragraph might give a little insight into the general tone of the article.

Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo.

Lyons goes on to cite a handful of people who were negatively affected by some mean spirited blogging. A handful in a world with millions of blogs. And while Lyons gives much prose to the fact that bloggers can spout whatever they want without the constraints imposed on traditional journalists, he doesn’t balance it with even one of the multitude of examples of blogs reporting stories that so-called real journalists didn’t or wouldn’t report. Throughout the entire article I was shocked by what seems to be purposely inflammatory writing. There was no balanced coverage and definitely no sign of Lyons being at all knowledgable about blogs and the blog world. I would think there’d be at least one college intern lackey at Forbes that could give Lyons a quick rundown.

I would find the accusation that Yahoo! and Google are “potent allies” in the blogosphere’s supposedly libelous, slander-crazy bender anger inducing if it wasn’t so laughable. Why isn’t Microsoft listed among Yahoo! and Google as allies? Because while Microsoft may have its own blog service (which Lyons would know if he had done any research), including them as an ally would totally ruin one of Lyons’ later notes about the blogosphere’s attacks on Microsoft.

Additionally, Groklaw gets a mention for its attack on SCO. (Maybe Lyons misplaced his notes with the history of the IBM/SCO case?)

What bothers me most is that an executive with no blog knowledge will read this article on his business flight and get off the plane with a very wrong view of the blogosphere and no idea that blogs have positive attributes. That executive won’t learn the benefits of embracing the technology. And while I agree that the blogosphere is not all roses, sunshine and fluffy, floating clouds, Lyons’ highly biased, unresearched and ignorant article is reprehensible. Where were the editors on this one?

Other reactions:

Economics Politics

Long Term vs. Short Term: On the Personal Level

The sacrifice of the long term in favor of the short term in business has been bothering me for some time. However, as I continue to ponder it, it strikes me that the same problem can be traced all the way back to an individual, personal level. People consistently make short term decisions at the detriment of the long term. I do it as well — shelling out for an expensive handbag with money I should have saved or driving my car when I could ride my bike and save a pinch of earth’s resources.

Of course, considering the long term with every decision one makes on a daily basis would be a time consuming, laborious task. I’m in no way an advocate of living one’s life stuck at home, stricken with indecision. However, one area where I see a decided lack of long term thinking is in political positions and decisions. Was anyone thinking about a long term exit strategy when the Iraq War was approved? When the extension of the Patriot Act is pushed, do those in favor consider how this affects civil liberties in the US twenty years from now? If Intelligent Design is allowed in the classroom, what would be the effect to the perception of scientific method? Do people in favor of a federal healthcare system consider the debt load, probable bureaucracy, and economic effects on the long term health (fiscally, and healthcare system in general) of the US?

Thinking long term is hard. The short term is always much easier to judge, but I believe the US would benefit from a decided surge in long term thinking.


I (heart) baking

I (heart) baking Oh, I love baking, I really do. So, I’ve decided to give the topic its own corner of the web. The style is a little different than this blog, but, if nothing else, I hope you’re hungry for chocolate after you visit.


Intelligent Design and Evolution

As regular readers know, I hate stereotyping and generalizations (see Election 2004 results analysis). With the latest Kansas Board of Education ruling that opens the way for local school districts to allow the teaching of ID, most people have come to the conclusion that all Kansans must not believe in science. This is despite the fact that this ruling came from the votes of 6 board members — not a state referendum vote. Generalizations are just too easy, I think we can skip the “If you believe X (or live near/are related to/might have met someone that believes X), you must be stupid/ignorant” arguments.

Also, on the same topic, I ask both sides of the debate: why do Intelligent Design and Evolutionary Theory have to be mutually exclusive? Why does a belief in Evolutionary Theory preclude a belief in Intelligent Design (or vice versa)? Perhaps God’s intelligent design included the evolution and adaptation of organisms. I’m sure there are many out there who believe in “Evolutionary Design.” Why don’t we hear their voices?

Probably, because a somewhat peaceable argument wouldn’t make for good, flammable blog fodder.


USD Doesn’t Make the Playoffs, Nicole Gets Angry

The Divison II football team with the highest total offense per game, a top quarterback (a Harlan Hill candidate), an 8-2 record, a share of the North Central Conference title, and a #11 national ranking (or #8 depending on which poll you follow) will not be in the playoffs. Seems a little odd doesn’t it? I’m very bitter. Probably more so now than when I watched in astonishment as the playoff field was announced.

Four teams split the NCC conference title. The other three teams are in the playoffs, USD is not despite having beat (handily, I might add) two of the three teams. USD, in fact, now ends the season ranked higher than the other three teams, but will not be in the playoffs.

I know it comes down to USD being the victim of belonging to a tough conference and region (watch for someone from the Northwest region if not the NCC to take the national title), but, also, I fear, politics.

I’ve broken it down from every angle from who from the NCC should have really been in to, once at the regional level, examining wins vs. losses, strength of schedule, and conference equity. In the end, I come to one conclusion, we were still jacked.

There has to be something wrong with a system that leaves a #11 team sitting at home.
Do the DII playoffs expand to 32 teams? (But then, of course, team 33 is pissed)
Would a system in which four teams from each region are chosen plus 8 at-large bids be better?
What about a system that simply takes the top 24 ranked teams into the playoffs?

In the end no amount of digital yelling will change anything. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to reserve the right to be bitter for some time yet. Congrats USD on a great season — I had fun following it.


A Couple of Nicole’s Laws

  1. If you are required to park incorrectly because some dude can’t park worth crap, that dude will inevitably leave the lot first making you look like the jack@$$ who can’t park.
  2. If two buslines on the same loop (but going opposite directions) go very near your two local bus stops within a minute of each other and both have the same ultimate destination, whichever one you don’t take will arrive at the transit center first.
Geek Rant

Bad Defensive Design for the Web

37Signals would be aghast at TIAA-CREF‘s take on defensive design.

TIAA-CREF account creation page screenshot

Firstly, an error message is displayed when a I initially go to the client log-in creation page. Hmmm, I thought to myself. Some functionality isn’t working apparently, but the form is still there, so I must be able to continue. Wrong. I fill in the information, click submit, and nothing happens. So now I guess I’ll just sit and wait for whatever is wrong to be fixed in whatever ambiguous timeframe. That’ll be something to do while I wait for to finally send my forgotten password (which was supposed to be sent 20 minutes ago). But, forgotten password reminders not arriving instantaneously is another rant for another day.


On Long Term vs. Short Term

Link logs in the blogosphere are saturated with incredulous links to stories in the vein of “Wow. Look at this company — they pay their employees well, are socially responsible, and they’re still successful. Huh.” Among the companies likely to be the subject of the linked articles are SouthWest, JetBlue, Whole Foods, or Costco.

Great. I like to see great companies rewarded with stellar PR. However, why the accompanying surprise? These companies have chosen the long term over the short term and are justifiably reaping the rewards. Their success is not a surprise for the economically wise — in fact, economists may be wondering to themselves why more companies haven’t caught on. Success is found in thinking long term, not short term.

Oddly, against most economics 101 lessons, a large portion of the private business sector is operating only on the short term. Any small piece of negative company news, whether a possible leadership shake up or a slight miss of quarterly earnings, can send the company stock on a slide. The focus on quarterly earnings have effectly created a business world that has lost sight of the long term. What about looking past Q4 to next year, the next five years, the next ten years?

Great business leaders have a long term vision. Southwest and JetBlue know that keeping fixed costs low maintains low debt and expense burdens for the future. They know that valuing and empowering their human capital lowers turnover and discontent, thereby saving millions (billions?) in training and the added cost of unionized labor. Costco knows that having a well-paid, well-treated work force lowers turnover, increases productivity and efficiency and, thusly, increases profits more than Wal-Mart-esque penny pinching ever could. The same goes for Whole Foods.

So, how do we get out of the short term funk? Well, in my estimation (one tainted by a high level of economics geekiness, but by no means one that should be considered infallible), investors need to look past the next quarter, because the company a year or more in the future is more important. And, ultimately, a company has to be willing to take short term investor losses in order to save the long term. Economic principles will reward them in due time.