The problem with the Internet

posted by Jeff | Monday, March 23, 2009, 12:41 AM | comments: 1

I was reading a column on one of the tech sites earlier today about how advertising was failing and destined for certain doom and nonsense like that. It was written by a guy who is an IT professor at Wharton, which is pretty awful considering that, well, that's supposed to be a good school. Sure, ad spending is down, but spending on everything is down. The guy gave no correlation between the alleged failure and the reduced spending. And he's an academic! What he clearly is not is someone with any marketing experience at all.

The problem with the Internet is that anyone can post shit on it. Yeah, I'll put myself in that category. I generally don't try to pass myself off as an authority on something unless I actually am an authority on it (yeah, of course there are exceptions). It's the crap you read from people who think that they are an authority that annoy me. Show me some credentials, because if your byline doesn't convince me, you won't either.

In positions where I've had to hire people, I've noticed that experience still requires context to truly demonstrate qualification. I mean, a prostitute may have had sex with thousands of people, but it doesn't make them good at sex. (This is a subtle jab at "consultants" in my area.)

The qualifications that make you an authority on anything are complex, and I don't know how you really filter out the crap from the good stuff on the Internet. I suppose it has been like that in all forms of media, but over time reputations are built and a track record is established. The Internet moves too fast to be bothered with that a lot of the time.

Where this becomes a critical issue is in the transfer of authority to new forms of news gathering in particular. If newspapers can't fund newsrooms, then I have to hope that trained journalists who follow the classic ethics of the profession can pick up the slack in some way that also allows them to eat.

It's less critical about things that matter less (like nonsense about roller coasters), but it's still hard to differentiate sometimes between a "first post!!11!!" anonymous schmuck and someone who has the experience and high level of observation to contribute meaningfully to a discussion.

All of that said, I'm optimistic that these problems will eventually work themselves out. I think there are a lot of very clever people out there in the Tubes.


Iceracer, March 24, 2009, 5:41 PM #

"trained journalists who follow the classic ethics of the profession " Hmmmmmmmm? Where are they? The news media, print radio, television and internet are awash with entertainers acting the part of journalists. I feel compelled to research and verify, to the best of my humble abilities, almost every story before I form any opinion or otherwise react. If only the general public would or perhaps could do the same. It is difficult to have meaningful discussions with meaningless information.

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