Moneyblog

The reactions to my rant yesterday have been fascinating. The vast majority have been overwhelmingly positive — except from one sector where it’s more like 50/50. No surprise which sector that is: technology writers/bloggers/journalists. About half thought the post was great/honest/inspiring. The other half think I’m the devil. 

I’m reminded of one of the best parts of last year’s film Moneyball. Red Sox owner John Henry (Arliss Howard) says the following to Billy Beane (Brad Pitt):

It’s the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods, it’s threatening their jobs, it’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people are holding the reins, have their hands on the switch. They go bat shit crazy.

If everything I said yesterday is true, technology writers, be it short-term or long-term, are fucked. Either they’ve already sold their souls for the pageviews and the subsequent paychecks or they’ll eventually have to make that choice. The best know this and I suspect many of them won’t be in the game in 5 years. But the ones who have been in the game too long to change… the ones holding the reins… well, they’re going bat shit crazy. 

Predictably, much of the venomous focus has been on the fact that CrunchFund is a Path investor. It’s obvious and also lazy because it doesn’t address what I’m actually talking about. Of course I knew I would open myself up to such criticism, it’s not like I’m trying to hide our position. The fact of the matter is that I had been building that post up in my head for weeks and the Path situation was simply a perfect jumping off point.

To be clear, I think the issues brought up with the Path situation are real (though I stand by Path that their intent was not actually malicious here, obviously). I said as much last week. The problem here is that the technology writers covering it are simply being lazy and not actually doing their jobs. To stick with baseball, they’re writing about the Steroids Era but only focusing on Jason Giambi. Why not focus on Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemens as well?

Certainly, that would make for a more powerful story. It would turn a lone instance of steroids use into a full-fledged epidemic. One potentially fueled by the institution itself.

But that would require some actual work. And some thinking. It’s not a pre-packaged story that can be written in 30 minutes to feed the mob and reap the rewards.

And that’s the problem with technology writing in a nutshell. Much of it is not entirely wrong, but it’s also less than half-right. Or it’s completely misguided. And that is bullshit.

Yes, I’m burning down the city after I’ve left. And yes, hindsight is 20/20. But sometimes the only way to gain the right perspective is to take a step back. When I was in the city, I knew things were bad. But I underestimated just how bad things actually are. 

For nearly every story reported on, there’s knowledge out there that would drastically alter the tone/implications/”facts” of that story. But few are going after such knowledge. Because it’s easier to skim the surface. And it’s even easier to re-write the information extracted from someone else skimming the surface.

It’s easier to post a top 10 list. A slideshow. A viral video.

My intention is absolutely to threaten this way of doing things, which in turn would threaten jobs, and as such, livelihoods. No surprise that this has some up in arms. But fear not, old guard. As I said, I don’t foresee anything actually changing the way things are headed. 

Billy Beane never did win that World Series.

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