Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Internet Luddites

I remember 5 years ago, I was meeting with a headhunter and she asked me if I was working with any other headhunters. I responded no, but added that my resume was listed on She laughed her ass off at me and exclaimed, “no one uses”. I told her that I had gotten a few job interviews from it already. Yet she could not contain her derision or condescension. Now, 5 years later, nobody uses headhunters. And those headhunters that are still in business, they ALL scan for candidates.

I could tell a similar story about real estate agents and in New York City. They all scoffed at the idea of landlords listing apartment rental ads online, rather than trying to rent through their agencies. Now those same agencies ALL list their units on and they ALL use the site to troll for more business themselves.

Even last week, someone challenged my use of to determine the market price of a two bedroom apartment rental in Brooklyn Heights. I had written that the rental price is “around $2000 a month”. I should have written more precisely that it is around “$2300” a month, which doesn’t change the Rent versus Buy argument much at all. (compare $2300 a month to $3300 in mortgage payments + probably $1400 in maintenance and taxes + insurance, etc...) He told me that I had to look in the NY Times to get the real market rental rate. I respectfully disagreed. has 117,000 listings under NYC Housing. Also, most of the NY Times listings are posted on as well.

Moving along…

The headhunter and real estate agent anecdotes illustrate the word of the day:

Luddite – 1) any of a group of British workers who between 1811 and 1816 rioted and destroyed laborsaving textile machinery in the belief that such machinery would diminish employment. 2) one who opposes technical or technological change.

The term is mostly used generically now to describe those that resist progress. I could understand being an internet Luddite back in the 1990s, but anyone who belittles the internet now is just plain foolish. Yet I can hardly go a day without hearing or reading someone disparage the net. The criticism is usually predictable in both source and content. It mostly germinates from old entrenched interests (MSM - mainstream media, politicians, business, higher education, …) and from people that either don’t use the internet or haven’t really harnessed its potential. The substance of these complaints is invariably an assault on the veracity or origin of web-based information. This really is an ad hominem attack on the whole web – and it is quite ridiculous.

So when I saw anti-Businesweek’s cover this week, “Blogs Will Change Your Business”, I could pretty much predict the tripe they would call an article. Look at these excerpts (parenthetical remarks are mine):

Most of you are sick to death of blogs (QUITE A PRESUMPTION)

And yes, there's plenty out there not to like. Self-obsession, politics of hate, and the same hunger for fame that has people lining up to trade punches on The Jerry Springer Show. (NOTHING TO LIKE?)

Name just about anything that's sick in our society today, and it's on parade in the blogs (HOW ABOUT MAINSTREAM MEDIA?)

On lots of them, even the writing stinks. ( read: BLOGGERS ARE RANK AMATEURS)

Let's assume that 99.9% (of blogs) are equally off point…. (SO FAR 99,9% OF THIS ARTICLE IS “OFF POINT”)

If it's scandalous, a poisonous e-mail from a CEO, for example, or torture pictures from a prison camp,…

And here's the killer: Blog posts linger on the Web forever. (“LINGER”?)

Whether at newspapers or global manufacturing giants, they decide what the masses will learn.

This elite still holds sway at most companies. You know them.

This raises all kinds of questions about the ever-shrinking wall between advertising and editorial.

Any chance that a blog bubble could pop?

The difference is that while dot-coms promised to make loads of money, blogs flex their power mostly by disrupting the status quo.

A prediction: Mainstream media companies will master blogs as an advertising tool and take over vast commercial stretches of the blogosphere.

....and earn some pocket change

Popular blogs can land sponsorship deals for as much as $25,000 per month, say consultants. O.K. money for an entrepreneur, but a rounding error in the ad industry.

The big companies have what the bloggers lack. Scale, relations with advertisers, and large sales forces. They can use these forces to sell across all media, from general audience to bloggy niches. (MORE SELF-SERVING WISHFUL THINKING.)

All of this nonsense is in an article ostensibly about how blogs are changing businesses. The only business blogs are drastically changing is the media business. While blogs “linger forever”, in the past, the content of media companies did not. So pundits, journalists, and other mouthpieces could pretty much be wrong with impunity. It used to be much tougher to keep track of who said, or did what, when, or where. Now the moment a falsehood is published or broadcast, my blogging cohorts are all over it. One would think the media companies would appreciate this free editing and fact checking service.

Question: if blogs are just poorly written and unreliable garbage, beneath the concern of real advertisers, why did Businessweek devote its frontpage and lead story to such an irrelevancy?

The next time someone bashes blogs, ask them to name the most popular blogs on the net. I will bet you that they can't. It is almost needless to say that they haven't read them either. If someone wants to learn about blogs, I suggest they read blogs and not Businessweek.

Anyway, here is the link to that article.

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