Posted by Amanda Chapel
A little preface if I may: I bled this one. I prayed for a reference piece and my vixen muse had me crawl for it. As you'll see, it was on my belly over a razor’s edge. ‘Tis the season, ‘tween Christmas and Auld Lang Syne, I am typically awash in spirit. I go happily merrymaking as She strops the rage to hone the blade. You'll see, I wrote this raw and particularly depressed. But She kept her promise. In the end She was quite generous.
With that as backdrop, such as hangovers are, I've been haunted by a teeth-gnashing rumination. The Bloggeratti pat phrase “they just don’t get it” keeps churning in my head. All the while, my evil Muse repeats a simple refrain: "when the got-its that don’t get it is good.”
Chris Cree is a “business blogging consultant” who "gets it." With little more than his own personal blog and a pocketful of zealous opinion, Chris would be thrilled if you gave him money to justify his life. In his words, “Blogging is my thing and I’m passionate about it because I understand how tremendously beneficial it can be to your businesses profitability.” Fact is, no one knows that to be the case. Forrester analyst Charlene Li is working on an ROI calculation to figure out "cost-benefit" or "risk-benefit" analysis for blogs, as we speak. And according to accountant and celebrity blogger Dennis Howlett: “You can't realistically apply accounting type measures to blogs because they don't fit. I can tell you it's been very difficult to move away from traditional measures as reflective of how we measure ROI in social computing initiatives.” All of which means, of course, that Chris’ zealotry doesn’t amount to squat in the business world.
But, our young Chris is undaunted. In fact, he’d go so far as to educate me with, “Why One PR Expert Doesn’t Understand Business Blogging.” Chris says that my “core error” is that “Money is about people.” In summary, Chris thinks it’s all about “relationships” and how people feel.
I am again reminded of the Woody Allen quote, “It’s nothing that a fistful of Prozac and a baseball bat couldn’t cure.” This is where the baseball bat comes in: First off, money is about property, you dink! And to protect property is why people hire lawyers... or more efficiently buy shotguns. Here's reality bub... get the fuck off my land!
WHY THE DISCONNECT?
Why does there seem to be such a plethora of self-proclaimed “experts” like Chris, with very little actual business experience, proselytizing. I mean, Chris is legion. WTF?
Edelman’s Trust Barometer holds the clue. Edelman, the largest independent PR firm in the world, does an annual survey of 1,500 opinion leaders in eight key markets. Every year they again find that “trust in established institutions (business, government, media) and figures of authority (CEOs, heads of state) is being supplanted by a personal web of trust that includes colleagues, friends and family, a person like yourself.” Bottom line: in a flattened world, vetted and authoritative information is OUT; drivel about relationships and how people feel is IN. These personal webs are by nature more interested in how Paris Hilton feels than what Stephen Hawking thinks.
A LOOK AT GROUP DYNAMICS
There are several things at play when it comes to the “get-it” crowd that ironically makes them the last ones on earth to actually get anything.
First off, their all-holy “conversation” is primarily babble. The dynamic has a name: it’s called Twins Syndrome. Twins notoriously test lower on IQ tests because in the early brain formative years they spend and inordinate amount of time “talking” with each other, i.e. their education is little more than circumlocution.
Case in point: Rubel recently said that in the past he’s experimented with relying on the blogosphere totally as his source of news and information. Exactly. You are what you eat. Ironically, Rubel was commenting on Joseph Rago's recent Op-Ed for WSJ where Joe emphatically dissed the "Blog Mob" saying among other things, “People also like validation of what they already believe; the Internet, like all free markets, has a way of gratifying the mediocrity of the masses.”
Also at play is that the "Get-Its" self-censor is turned off. It's the cornerstone of Group Think. Excuse me... the Challenger!
As long as they (the members) promote the ultimate goal of getting the blog spaceship into the air, it's all okay. They say whatever in the moment with very little reflection, self criticism or self restraint. It is a totally tactical perspective, i.e. "Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die." [Sidebar: Just listen to Me2Revolution president, Rick Murray: "Anytime you can bring fake people together spending real money on fake thinks..." You just can't write that stuff and you can't tell me he's thinking... at all!]
Lastly, as long as you're inside the crowd's beliefs, you're safe. "Just like sheep that crowd timidly toward the center of a herd, each of us tried to get into the middle of our formations” (Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl).
JEFF JARVIS NOW DEMANDS A RATIONALE
Bottom line: does it make business sense?
To that end, former TV critic at TV Guide and People, and now blog celeb and grand "get-it," Jeff Jarvis is on the speakers' circuit demanding a business model. Talk about insult to injury... I love it... after a year of threatening corporate America with 6 million pitchfork and torch bearing knuckleheads to "cede control" or else, Jarvis wants business not only to pay for it, but to design a model that makes it economically feasible. Now is that major cojones or a screw loose?
Jarvis gave a "sermon" to "the choir" a few months ago in Boston that ironically captured the issues as well as the fatal flaw that foretells the demise of the entire fad. Some of his more salient points include: TV proves that Americans have good taste and renews one's faith in the populace; ultimate choice is an ultimate good; advertisers are stupid and lazy; "conversation" is king. It was approximately an hour speech on the state of media – full of assumptions and proposals –without a single authoritative reference, let alone support, whatsoever.
As an extension to his blogging expertise, Jeff offered a few proposals for video on the net:
Imagine! Give me your property and devise a model that rationalizes me stealing it.
Jeff's speech was well received, applause all around, underscoring the point: No talent or discipline is required to give an opinion. One just needs to be aligned with the mob, and of course, the perception of celebrity as provided by say, a blog.
Think about it!
Okay, how rare was this? A few weeks ago Joseph Thornley, CEO of PR firm Thornley Fallis published this: "Reality Check: Don't overestimate the rate of adoption of social media." Apparently, Thornley gave a presentation to approximately 30 attendees who had each paid $2,000 to attend a two day conference on new media. Ironically, his talk was titled, “Sustaining a Successful Blog: If You Build, Will They Come?”
According to Joe, "And of these thirty people who had paid a lot of money to hear my presentation on sustaining a successful blog - how many actually had a blog? None. Zero. Nada. What do you think?"
As rare as it is to find anyone in the PR blogosphere that questions, it is rarer still to find someone actually connecting the dots. Here are a few dots to connect:
Why is this trend so scary? Because we don't seem to know what porn is anymore. What seems to be self contradictory in a normal functioning marketplace, today isn't. Britney exposing her chotchie just increases her exposure, literally. A self-contradictory business blogging book jumps to #14 on Amazon's Business/Marketing & Sales bestseller list. After being exposed in the Flogging Scandal, Edelman's new business has never been more vibrant. Again, WTF?
Sadly, the market seems to have lost its self-righting mechanism. Forget that there are few if any rational business models to make a case for business blogging; today, the Got-Its that Don't Get It is good. How depressing is that?
"Think about it," She says.
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When you get serious, you argue such a passionate, articulate case, filled with cynicism and barely contained rage. What I like the most is that I almost completely disagree with your conclusions, but just love the way you argue your case.
If your point is that the blogosphere is filled with hucksters and hyperbole then all you are doing is stating the self-evident. But if your key point is that blogging is just another scam-filled fad that will pass like methane emissions from a cow, then I think you should restudy your own cw shit.