Editor's Note: A Ship of Fools? More Like a RowboatApr 01, 2005, 23:30 (12 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)
By Brian Proffitt
Is it over? Can I come out now?
Like a battle-weary soldier crawling out of his foxhole, I survey the post April Fool's Day battlefield and view the casualties--nay, the sheer carnage of carcasses strewn about by professional humor and scathing wit. The day is over, the battle quiet for another year.
That's it? No more? A few tosses at humor from The Age, KDE, Gentoo, Humorix, NewsForge, and KernelTrap and that's all we get for our April Fool's Day? Don't get me wrong, these were funny efforts, but in terms of volume? Phffft!
I blame the media.
Actually, I blame the media's response to bloggers. As more and more bloggers infringe on what is supposedly professional journalists' territory, I have noticed more and more organizations tightening up on humor leaks so they can distinguish themselves as "real" media that does not deal in rumor and funny stuff.
In other words, it's back to the days of Walter Cronkite.
Which is all well and good, I suppose, a little professionalism never hurt anybody. But when it comes to April Fool's, I mean, come on, can't we let down our hair just a little?
The Media Establishment's response to bloggers has been interesting in other ways. A number of pundits have come out against bloggers, citing that they don't have the professionalism and skills to accurately report news. I think they're trying to cover their behinds, since bloggers represent a threat to their subscriber base.
For me, bloggers are analogous to the early days of the American Revolution, when one-man printing presses would churn out the news of the day regardless of what the official establishment said. Of course, in those days, the official media was owned by the crown. Nowadays, of course, government ownership and participation in media is not a factor.
Then there's the other side of the equation, when media groups embrace blogging and send their journalists to go forth and make their own blogs, which are hosted on said organization's Web sites. This seems to be a good idea, on the surface. While blog pieces tend to be short, they appear more frequently, so the content evens out.
What drives me crazy is the way these "professional" blogs tend to end with the tagline: "What Do You Think?" in an obvious attempt to get reader response in the Comments section, which will drive up hit count.
This seems to invalidate the original point the establishment blogger is trying to make. Does John Smith really believe that Linux is the greatest operating system known to the universe? Or is he just trying to infuriate all the MSCEs out there so they'll increase his site's traffic? While it's fun to tick off MSCEs, it seems a bit off the mark for a journalist to incite.
Are blogs the real cause for the lack of fun in technology media today? Perhaps. Like the IT community's reaction to the onset of open source, different members of the media are reacting to the onset of blogging in different ways. These reactions will be interesting to watch in the days to come, since they provide a societal mirror to how open source will get along with the broader IT community.
What do you think?