Rich people behaving rich

Farhad Manjoo, a tech writer at Slate, wrote a piece about Valleywag yesterday.

The point of the piece, as I read it, is that Valleywag writes about the follies of rich people behaving rich, and as vain, flawed human beings like the rest of us. I like what Valleywag is doing. Manjoo says they could do better. I feel the same way about Manjoo.

The non-Valleywag tech press also write about rich people behaving rich, as if the money made them more competent than the rest of us. They don't write about the follies. Quite the opposite. To the tech press money makes you super-human.

Either way they write about people with lots of money.

Because money is so central to what they write about, the people whose business is money, venture capitalists, are above it all. They're the mostly invisible gatekeepers for the rest of us.

Knowing this, I've tried to get venture capital for my work, many times -- and never have been successful. So my software has had to develop new communication channels. That's why I was pulled into publishing tools. It worked, until the VCs saw opportunity, now almost everything they fund is blogging software. Has been that way for many years.

Manjoo defends Pando Daily, a publication that almost never deviates from the VC-gatekeeper mode. They probably do break out often enough so they can provide a few examples of times they wrote about non-VC-backed products, or were critical of companies funded by VCs. But in general, Pando is the house organ of venture capital.

The sad part about all this is that the VCs only invest in one kind of product, systems designed to aggregate people whose data can be mashed up into a slurry that's recombined into new products that can be sold to marketers.

It's a 21st century version of the publishing industry of the 20th century.

Even worse is that this process sells us out to the governments. They're data miners for the NSA. They don't care if you get owned, as long as they get paid.

All this is very bad for diversity in software. It leads to monoculture, and that imho inevitably will lead to another collapse.

I like that Valleywag is willing to call them on their silliness. Would Manjoo be able to do that? That's just a question. But when he writes pieces like this, you have to wonder if he'd be willing to throw away the goodwill it's getting him with the VCs. And Valleywag, if they decide to cover products, may well report on new stuff that the rest of the tech press won't touch.

Optimistically it may be that this is the final shakeout of the industrial system of the 20th century. VC is ripe to be replaced by more distributed financing models, the VCs even seem to agree with this. All it takes is one super success that owes nothing to VC. Then the tech press, if it still exists at that time, will have to work a lot harder to find new stuff to write about.

Update: Part 2 of the series, on linearity and why it doesn't work.

Posted: Fri, 30 Aug 2013 12:31:13 GMT