Joel Spolsky is back from his podcasts moonlighting and has an angry piece on:
…unbelievable proliferation of anecdotes disguised as science, self-professed experts writing about things they actually know nothing about, and amusing stories disguised as metaphors for how the world works…
I like reading Joel. He’s smart, humorous, and has excellent insights on the software industry. This post, like many others, indeed made me do the Oh-yes!-How-true! routine at first. It reminded me of an anecdote that Mosh, a colleague at work was telling, on how a respected investment bank newsletter was advising him just a few months ago to buy the solid but profitable Icelandic state bonds (luckily he didn’t). Yes, the economic big bang indeed demonstrated how experts may know nothing, at least in that field.
But something bothered me still. Joel went on to tell us that:
On Sunday Dave Winer [partially] defined “great blogging” as “people talking about things they know about, not just expressing opinions about things they are not experts in (nothing wrong with that, of course).” Can we get some more of that, please? Thanks.
I’ve read Dave’s post, and it’s a good one too. But asking myself where this definition put my own blogging, I had to send myself to shamefully stand in the corner, as I did sometimes express opinions about things I’m not an expert in. It was at that point that I realized this elitism stems from simple old school, centralized thinking on journalism. You see, blogging is a many-to-many medium, and you get to pick your reads. If that’s what you want, those sources are there, you just need to find them, Dave Winer mentions counter examples even in that same post.
The new art of this medium, then, is picking those reads, and it’s no less than a skill for life in my eyes. If only my children’s computers teachers would teach them how to choose content sources, how to pick quality over noise, how to evaluate trustworthiness, rather than teaching how to google or use MS Powerpoint, I’d feel a lot more like they’re acquiring a skill for their the-web-is-like-air future life…
Joel’s is my favorite blog as well, since forever. But this last post seems to be, well, kind of contradictory to all he stands for.
He is the master of telling a story well. In fact, he has a book out which is just a random collection of funny anecdotal stories he picked from various blogs, which I’m sure is paying him not bad either.
So, I agree with you.