By: Hillel Fuld (@hilzfuld)
The day started like any other. I woke up at 4:30 AM, turned on my iPhone and launched Flipboard. Like I do every morning, I expected to read about some new startup that got funded, some new technology that was bought by an industry giant, and possibly some new privacy issue that made the press overnight. You know, the normal stuff.
I was utterly disappointed to discover that not only were those topics not the main news I encountered, but all the blogs that I read daily were discussing the most ridiculous internal blogging drama I have ever seen. I’ll slow down and give a little background.
Last week, one of my favorite apps, Path came under some serious fire when a user discovered that the app was “secretly” uploading the user’s address book to its servers. The tech world went nuts. I thought everyone was overreacting as I wrote in detail here.
Well, since then, Dave Morin, the founder of Path publicly apologized and deleted all the data. Many quickly forgave and moved on. Not the NY Times. Here is where things started to get messy. Two of the members of Crunchfund, the fund started by the founder of TechCrunch Mike Arrington, who also recruited the TechCrunch writer, MG Siegler, loudly voiced their opposition to the Times article. Of course, Crunchfund invests in Path, which was expected to make things even uglier. You know, defending the company you invest in might be interpreted the wrong way.
Well, today, the ugliness and drama reached a whole new level. If you are still here, you must like drama, in which case you are going to want to read Dan Lyons’ post about the whole story here and MG’s downright nasty response here.
If you read those articles, which you should if you want to understand the context of what I am about to write, then you must have come away with the same feeling I did. Namely, “get over yourselves, all of you”.
OK, here is my take, which I have been thinking about for months and this story just became my trigger to verbalize. Tech bloggers, sit down, this might sting. You are a blogger. Not a rocket scientist, not a famous actor, not a talented athlete. A blogger. Anyone can start a blog for free in ten seconds. What have you done in your life that gives you the stage to trash other people, not respond to “normal” folks who address you on Twitter or by email, and define the rules by which all online journalism, yes ALL, even the NY Times and the Wall St Journal should be conducted?
You have a lot of traffic? Here is me slow clapping for you three times. You have been dedicating hours upon hours of your time for years writing about a topic that is very hot and will naturally attract eyeballs, this says nothing about you.
Here is the thing. I was very on the fence about writing this post but at the end of the day, the reason I blog and the reason you should all blog is for the readers. It is for your own voice. It should not be for page views, it should not be for prestige, and it should not be for influence. Those things are bundled with the package of becoming a well-known tech blogger, but when you stop writing for your readers and you start writing for any of those things, you have made a wrong turn.
With all this new drama surrounding tech blogging, the authors are not writing about tech and they are not writing for their readers. It has turned into a few tech bloggers writing about other tech bloggers for… wait for it… tech bloggers. Yes, no normal people care about all this drama.
To just address a few points in the crossfire, let’s start with Dan Lyons’ post.
Dan, by starting your post talking about how jealous you are, you were practically begging MG to write about how irrelevant you are. Bad move. Moving along, the personal attacks on Arrington and Siegler were completely out of place and they basically diluted your level of credibility throughout the whole article. You know, like the kid who has nothing to respond in an argument so he turns to personal name-calling and shouting. Bad move #2.
Moving along, by basically making the claim that Mike and MG are nothing more than bullies who have no talents, well, you are making a fool of yourself. While Arrington is one problematic dude (he blocked me on Twitter and I have never exchanged a word of dialogue with him), he built an impressive empire. MG, according to most tech experts is a talented writer and analyst. Based on his latest posts/rants, he might have some anger issues he has to deal with but he knows his stuff. You should have taken the high road. Even Arrington did something very uncharacteristic and took the high road.
Well, as expected, MG took the bait and attacked. He, as usual, raised some valid points, but spoke mainly out of clear frustration, which had him so worked up that the post, similar to yesterday’s was filled with typos. Now why does that matter? I’ll tell you why. I told MG about his typos but not only did he not respond, but my tweet to him was not worth a “Fixed” or even a “Thank you” . You know why? Because I am not a Techcrunch writer nor do I have 30 million monthly readers.
This is the fundamental problem with the world of tech blogging in its current state. In one word? Ego! A whole lot of it. In MG’s post about the blogging world, he comes off very condescending and egotistical. Which is ok, but some of his points are just way off. He talks about expertise. MG might know Apple inside and out, but what exactly makes him an expert on whether it is ok for an app to steal my address book without permission? His main argument? Path is not alone, others do it too. Do I really need to even address that? How does that make this story any more ok? Two wrongs…
In the most recent post, or should I say “attack”, MG wastes a lot of real estate on talking about how “irrelevant” Dan Lyons is. See? That is the issue right there! Irrelevant? To who? To your elite tech blogging club? Seriously, normal people don’t care about this stuff. MG lashes out at Kara Swisher of AllThingsD and says she is a bad writer. I am not even going to go near that but suffice to say, Kara is one of the last tech bloggers who I would even use the word “Journalist” to describe. The rest are quickly become more like Paparazzi.
MG often responds to people who throw accusations at him that he is protecting a company or an entrepreneur because he invested or they are his friend with “My points still stand.” Yet, in his attack on Dan Lyons’ post, he did not even address any of Dan’s points. Dave Morin of Path said the app does not store my contacts, which was true for Path 1. But then in Path 2, Dave goes and uploads my data to his servers? OK, not a lie but not exactly honest either. Nothing to add, MG?
I can go on for hours about all these posts as well as the ReadWriteWeb response, but then I would be missing the point. A lot of these tech bloggers really have to get a reality check. Joshua Topolsky, who has created one of the best tech sites on the Web, TheVerge, will not, despite many attempts talk to “normal people” on Twitter. The CEO of Twitter, Alyssa Milano, actors, athletes, politicians, they all engage, but Joshua Topolsky can’t waste his time saying thank you when I pay him a compliment. MG, while he is way better than Topolsky, replies to his little inner group including Gabe Rivera from Techmeme and the rest of em, but talking to normal people? Na, not worth his time.
Now, maybe I am being over sensitive here but I just dont get it. How long does it take to write 30 characters when someone asks you a question? The thing is, when you let your blogging go to your head and independently decide that you are God’s gift to the internet, then why should you respond to a blogger with only a few hundred thousand readers? It is beneath you, right?
Back to this ridiculous and childish drama. Bloggers: move on and start doing your job. MG, you say you love technology? Then write about it. Or invest in it. But stop wasting your time and my mornings with drama about bloggers that only bloggers will read.
All this has actually been very discouraging to me and my personal blogging. When I feel like stopping, I tell myself that there are still hundreds of thousands of people who read my content so I will continue writing for them, My readers. Remember? The people who are behind the page views? Yea, time to put them as your priority and not all the other irrelevant and melodramatic things you have been focusing on. <rant over>