Between Mike and Charles
Monday, June 25, 2007 by Dave Winer.
Charles Cooper says "the blogosphere" needs to get real about the line between church and state.
My response: The tech blogosphere was invented because of the sloppy church-state line at CNet and other professional pubs. They're the last people who get to preach this particular gospel.
Inside the tech industry, we all know what's going on there. In private, no one is confused. They always take the side of big companies over small ones, even when it's ridiculous to do so. The reason -- big companies advertise, they pay their salaries. And the little ones are too little to make a difference. Even if their products are standard-setters. Do they look out for their readers or their bottom lines? Of course, they throw the readers under the bus (a metaphor that should be thrown under the bus, btw).
Further, there is no such thing as "the blogosphere" and there's no way for the lines to be anything other than what they are. Of course, individual bloggers can do something about it. And of course we all know who Cooper is talking about, Mike Arrington.
Now this is going to blow Mike away -- I'm going to defend him. Not because he's my friend, even though he is, but because he's doing a bunch of things right, and before everyone goes too far, let's understand what that is.
Mike doesn't tell bedtime stories, or mask his position behind vague words. He comes right out with it, and tells you he's pissed off, or to pound sand, or worse. Sometimes I can't believe the things he says, but at least he's not dancing around it, like some other people do. (More on that in a bit.)
Mike gets stories that CNet doesn't get, that no one else gets. Look at the piece he did on Mitch Kapor's product earlier today. Compare that against the nonsense that passes for tech news done by the pros. They put reporters on the stories who have no idea what they're writing about, and you can tell. Or old school guys who only quote their friends, and haven't found a new trend or product in years. All they know is that Apple, Google and Microsoft are important and that little companies are not. So it's a long time before a CNet hack gets to tell Mike how to do his job, even if he does act as a mouthpiece for a crappy Microsoft campaign (I wish he wouldn't do that).
On the other hand, Mike says he values loyalty above all else, but he turns his back on his friends far too often, and doesn't call some people on their hypocrisy when he really should. If he's really a gunslinger, he needs to take it out of the holster a little more frequently, and aim it at some people who aren't such easy targets. I want the doors to open wide, and the self-dealing in-breeding to stop. It's making it really hard to make progress. Too hard.
The fact is that it's a fucked up little industry, and everyone needs to clean house. There are some pockets of brightness, and we need to help those shine, and we also need to shine the light on the dirty practices that pay your bills, but hurt everyone else. That's creeping into what we used to call the blogosphere, and that's the scary thing. It's not that Mike needs to become more like CNet, it's that Mike is becoming too much like CNet.