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January 25, 2007

Good in or bad out?

In his New York Times Circuits Newsletter, David Pogue writes about Microsoft's recent gift of $2200 laptops to about 90 bloggers who write about technology -- laptops loaded with about-to-be-released Vista and Office 2007.

Reviewers need access to the technology they are reviewing, but as Pogue notes, MS could lend the computers.

But I'm more interested in the general point Pogue makes: we live in a culture in which most journalists are trained, and managed by editors who direct them to adhere to ethical guidelines that among other things prohibit accepting gifts from subjects of stories and reviews presented as objective. But technology is moving faster than culture, and a whole new class of influential communicators has emerged -- bloggers -- who for the most part are not trained or managed to follow a specific code of ethics.

If bloggers want durable credibility and success, the culture (theirs and the greater context in which they are embedded) will need to evolve practices and standards that establish and maintain trust. Without trust -- especially at blogs that specialize in providing information for costly decisions, like purchasing consumer electronics and software -- bloggers will lose their audiences. The speed of the development of reliable practices and reputation mechanisms may determine which parts of the blogosphere succeed, and whether much of it degenerates into a morass of spam-like paid (but disguised) product placement announcements.

Posted by jmm at January 25, 2007 04:10 PM