Two words: Editorial & Accountability.
There are hundreds of ‘blogs’ out there, 99% of which report the exact same stories, sometimes with a slightly different twist, or humour added, but rarely is there any editorial added; a dialogue that transcends the facts and places the pieces together to make sense of the story in context.
I feel the urge too; to copy and paste an Engadget story, add that joke that you think makes it funnier, wittier, better, and then post it up. It’s easy & it’s fun, but it adds nothing (well little) to the sum total of information out there.
When I started to create this blog I thought that I would try to use the fact that I’ve spent a good deal of the past few years of my life both involved and deep in reading of the technology industry to create this editorial that I feel that technology so needs. I don’t know how well I’m doing; scanning the main page there’s a mixture of editorial pieces and ‘replogs’ (replicated blog posts).
Accountability also plays a part; a. it’s all too easy to just ‘produce’ when there is no identity attached to the post. I like to take a leaf from Jason Calacanis’ book and create all online content under my real name that way it’s me that you see; my identity, my opinions and I have accountability. I believe that as a result of that, I am inherintly more trustworthy and believable in the minds of readers. It’s almost like a implicit declaration of ‘my word’ attached to the blog.
Give any person the anonymity that the internet can provide, and all of a sudden, people are producing content and conducting themselves in a manner that they would never have dreamed of in the real world. That surprised me a little to begin with; I have never felt the need to behave immaturely or irresponsibly just because the consequences won’t get back to me however over time I’ve realised that a great number of people do; just jump in to an online game of Halo 3 and you’ll see what I mean!
Anonymity and replicative & useless information go hand-in-hand, each creating and necessitating the other respectively.
The solution; add an element of accountability. People won’t post rubbish under their own name, they won’t be abusive and they won’t behave in a manner they wouldn’t consider appropriate in any physical public forum. I also believe there would be less blogs filled with replicated articles, and more editorial pieces adding actual value to the internet.
Are we on the right path?
Yes. The fact that audio and video casting is becoming much more popular (and available) is meaning that a lot more people are being forced to use their true identities, or are at least seeing it as a more normal and acceptable thing to do. It would be silly to publish a video podcast with your image and voice but under a handle and imagine yourself to be anonymous. With these phenomena, I believe that the web is heading in a very positive direction that will lead to more and more unique, original, and intersting content with known authors; giving non-technical audiences the faith to use and cite online materials.
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Find me at @chrismaddern.