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Three examples of great blogging

Sunday, November 16, 2008 by Dave Winer.

There's not enough great blogging, so when it happens, it's worth pointing out. Permalink to this paragraph

First what do I mean by great blogging? Permalink to this paragraph

1. People talking about things they know about, not just expressing opinions about things they are not experts in (nothing wrong with that, of course). Permalink to this paragraph

2. Asking hard questions that powerful people might not want to be asked. Permalink to this paragraph

3. Saying things that few people have the courage to say. Permalink to this paragraph

Most blogging, like most journalism is pretty easy-going as you'll see in some of the responses to the three examples below. That makes it harder for people to do the right thing.  Permalink to this paragraph

So here are the three examples. Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named coins.jpg1. Allen Stern asks if others are uncomfortable that the President-elect is posting his videos to a commercial website, thereby favoring one company over another. (Most people answered no, some people put him down for asking the question. I said I support his concern.) Permalink to this paragraph

Update: Dan Farber addresses the issue head-on. As any reporter will tell you, the appearance of impropriety is every bit as bad as the impropriety. The incoming President can be forgiven (briefly) for favoring one company's product over another, but the dominance of that product is, imho, the opposite of an excuse. The President-elect should help create competition. I think competition is so important it should be written into the Constitution (it's not there unfortunately). The fact that the CEO of the company is on his board of economic advisers is a problem in its own right, and is compounded by Obama's favoring his product over competition. Yes, it matters. It really does. Permalink to this paragraph

2. Duncan Riley says, despite my kind words for Gabe Rivera, his algorithms are hidden and not clonable, and that there's a difference between sharing the feeds of the most-quoted sites and the sources he scans. He's absolutely right about that, and it's a question that should be dealt with, one way or the other. Either Rivera should disclose his algorithm and sources, and keep it current, or people should stop considering his sites anything other than his personal opinion about what's important. And even if it were just his personal opinion, its disrespectful of his readers to not say what his criteria are. People are scared to question Rivera because the algorithm is hidden, so they fear that if they're critical they'll stop getting pointers from TechMeme or Memeorandum, and because of his close relationship with Mike Arrington, whose site has always dominated TechMeme. These are things that would never be tolerated in the MSM, and shouldn't be in blogging. Riley has the courage to say so and that's appreciated. Permalink to this paragraph

3. Marc Canter expresses disappointment in the people who are being appointed to the Obama transition team related to tech policy. His points are all valid, I've had the same concerns. It makes it easier to express those concerns because Marc went first.  Permalink to this paragraph

We owe these people more than the gratitude for having the courage to say what's obvious. So many others would rather look away from because powerful people don't want their secrets revealed and have ways of punishing people they don't like. Once one person sticks their neck out, it's easier for the second person to. To me, that's what blogging is about. Saying what needs to be said. Permalink to this paragraph

Update: Already getting pushback about the MSM line. I was thinking how most newspapers endorsed a Presidential candidate. They didn't just say "You should vote for Obama" -- they explained why they were saying that. This helps the reader understand the bias of the organization behind the newspaper, and their reasoning process. If the editorial board supports one candidate, it might be hard for them to tell you bad news about that person, or good news about his or her opponent. People have a right to know how you arrived at your decision, and if you're not saying why, that should also be explained. As far as I know, Rivera has never said one way or the other. Even so, I find value in his sites. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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