Posts from June 23, 2005

It’s not a medium, it’s a focus group

It’s not a medium, it’s a focus group

: The Wall Street Journal (free link) sums up companies who are monitoring blogs to get the pulse of the market.

Dell hell, continued

Dell hell, continued

: As I sent my machine to Dell in the Airborne ambulance, I took the hard drive out at Dell’s demand (what if it’s the hard drive or the registry that’s broken? they will make me spend hours on the phone to diagnose that, said the man). I put it in my son’s Dell, which is exactly the same: an Inspiron 600m. Ah, but I saw that it was not exactly the same, not at all: When the machine started up, my laptop’s brain in my son’s laptop’s body started recognizing no end of new and strange hardware. And that’s to say that there is no consistency at all in the Dell product. Tom Friedman wrote about that, admiringly, in his World is Flat book: In their just-in-time gusto, they grab a part from this supplier or that supplier and slap them in there. And so there is no consistency to the product: The 600m I bought and was satisifed with two months ago is not one bit like the 600m I bought next. It’s as if I went to Burger King and they substituted pork for beef because it was cheaper today.

But you know what, that’s Dell’s problem, really: All I should care about is having a computer that works. How it works and how it’s made is their problem if I have a warranty, right?

But that’s what bothers me most: I bought that warranty, the top-of-the-line, most expensive warranty that warrants to send someone to my home to repair my machine.

Except that’s a big fat Dell lie. The person they would send to my home would not have the parts (or, according to some of my commenters, the expertise, training, and intelligence) to repair that machine.

Smells like fraud to me.

Smells like a class-action suit to some of my commenters and emailers.

Calling Mr. Spitzer. Calling Mr. Spitzer.

Dell lies. Dell sucks.

I pledge not to pledge

I pledge not to pledge

: Yesterday, I suggested that Dan Gillmor should have wikied his pledge and Sean Bonner has done it. Dan has some links.

Thinking about it last night, I liked the idea of a pledge even less but thought I should explain that more.

A pledge assumes ill will and mistrust, requiring that we promise we won’t do something bad. If we’re decent and you trust us, we shouldn’t have to do that. I don’t have to take a pledge not to torture little puppies for you to trust that I won’t do it. I shouldn’t have to pledge to be honest to be honest.

The whole point of this new medium is that it is human and not institutional. In a human relationship, apart from wedding vows and oaths in court, we don’t take pledges. When you meet a neighbor, you don’t feel the need to say, I pledge not to dump my garbage in your backyard. The compact of civility and trust is assumed until it is broken. That’s the way I think this new medium operates. A blog is a person. Buzzmachine is me. You either like and trust me or don’t (and there are plenty who don’t; just read the comments). Or to put it another way: Like me, like my blog; dislike my blog, dislike me. I keep coming back to the conclusion of my blog chat with NY Times exec editor Bill Keller: Though blogs can do journalism and do media they are still essentially human. Journalism is institutional, impersonal, and dispassionate; blogs are human, personal, and passionate. Institutions takes pledges because they have become separated from the people they serve and they need to. Humans — bloggers — shouldn’t need to. Doesn’t mean you have to trust a blogger. But saying “trust me” doesn’t mean anybody should trust you more.

At the end of the day, I don’t want to see blogs turn into an institution, or try to, for then they wouldn’t be blogs anymore. They are human and operate on a personal and social scale and it’s a mistake to see them through institutional eyes. When I sat at an Annenberg confab on journalism a few weeks ago, I flashed on the frightening notion that in 50 years, there could be such confabs among bloggers fretting over trust, ethics, professional standards, educational needs, government relationships…. But then I snapped out of it. I was looking at blog through institutional eyes. No, blogs are just people speaking.