Forbes’ Daniel Lyons BASHES Blogs – Watch Out!

By Scott

In his latest cover story for Forbes magazine, Daniel Lyons attacks blogs and blog authors for “spewing lies, libel and invective.??

Daniel refers to blogs as “the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns.??

He expresses frustration at the fact that Google et al “operate with government-sanctioned impunity, protected from any liability for anything posted on the blogs they host.??

Daniel’s article is really just a tirade against a medium whose growth will not be stopped. Daniel is not just fighting against bloggers, he is fighting against market forces that are much more powerful than, well, just about anything short of a nuclear bomb. He works for Forbes… you’d think he’d understand the futility of this!

People want information, and they want perspective, and they want it now…

… And blogs fill that need…

And Daniel wants to take that all away.

In my experience, most blogs are not operated by me-too journalists. They are operated by political enthusiasts, frustrated customers, progressive corporations, independent experts, and just about any walk of life you could possibly imagine. These people become aggregators of information by building themed blogs, and surfing the media to report the important news of the day with a little bit of commentary. Bloggers who demonstrate that they are a consistent source of relevant, timely, and reliable content build a following and earn credibility. These, and the true thought-leaders, are the ones that get a lot of traffic.

Daniel quotes an Internet abuse attorney claiming that more than 50% of blog attacks are sponsored by competitors. Where’s the proof? No where. This statistic is offered without any support or suggestion that the source has conducted any formal research. Is it so unbelievable that John Doe flocks to the Internet to complain about XYZ corp after they wait on hold for 2 hours to have a billing mistake reversed, only to be hung-up on by an incompetent service representative? Daniel, if you are going to include such an outrageous statistic to support the points of your article, at least justify such a seemingly ridiculous statistic, or indicate that someone, somewhere, has endeavored to justify it.

A little perspective…

Daniel is concerned that blogs threaten the brand of large companies. Angry customers and shady competitors alike can build blogs to bash competitors.

Unfortunately, as I read the article, I got the feeling that Daniel didn’t have a very good understanding of what a blog actually is. I suspect he is not alone.

A Web Log (i.e. blog) is not some kind of magical force that exists on the Internet. It’s simply a website with an easy-to-use content management system, and an efficient tool for syndicating content throughout the Internet.

Some people use blogs to do bad things, but that does not justify an all-out attack on blogging in general. It seems that in this day and age, all media is suspect. I just don’t understand why Daniel chose to focus in on blogs.

The major point…

Daniel seems upset that Google and other search engines are complicit with the activities of bloggers.

He says: “Google and other carriers shut down purveyors of child porn, spam and viruses, and they help police track down offenders. So why don’t they delete material that defames individuals? Why don’t they help victims identify their attackers???

If I were Google, and if I were blunt, my answers would probably be similar to:

1) Google indexes billions of web pages, and positively impacts the everyday life of a significant portion of the U.S. population. People use Google for a variety of reasons, whether they’re looking for a pizza, an attorney, or a quick way to determine whether they’re having a heart attack. There is no reasonable way to police all of this information. It’s not Google’s responsibility to evaluate the content of the blogs indexed in their search engines anymore than it’s the convenience store owner’s responsibility to evaluate the content of the newspapers they sell in their stores.

2) Google shouldn’t help “victims?? identify their attackers because it’s simply not their job to do that. Google is a search engine. They help us find information quickly. They don’t create content (at least not yet), they just link to it.

Stephen Baker of BusinessWeek had an interesting article on this subject as well

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