Leave it to the blogosphere to prompt establishment paranoia, and thank goodness Forbes magazine has a feisty Silicon Valley watchdog named Michael Malone writing commentary for ABC News.
The current cover of Forbes carries a story called Attack of the Blogs by Daniel Lyons that stakes out its disapproval with this opening sentence:
"Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo." And so on. You get the drift.
A technology platform to energize commerce at companies like IBM and Chrysler? Nuts to that. A knowledge management breakthrough that has institutions like MIT's Sloan MBA program building professor and student blogging capability into its e-learning platform? What do they know!
Forbes focuses on nefarious bloggers who use Web 2.0 technology to create cyber-mayhem, giving its port-sipping-in-wingbacks readership the impression that the blogging phenomenon is something to be feared, likely regulated, but certainly not taken seriously as a medium for the serious exchange of business ideas or foundation for new businesses.
The cover story is a classic Forbes "anti-indicator" according to Malone, a respected tech pundit who once ran the magazine's attempt at chasing Wired and Business 2.0 with a publication called Forbes ASAP. Malone, who now writes the Silicon Insider column for ABC News, begs to differ with his former employer, saying when it comes to tech, Forbes "NEVER, EVER gets the big stuff right ... because if Forbes says something ain't so, by God it certainly is."
Malone then exercises his spidey sense and runs a few stats that give a lot of encouragement to my colleagues and I at market2world as we continue building a Web 2.0 marketing services firm from the ground up. He compares today's mosh-pit of innovation, investor interest and fast-changing buzzwords with what he witnessed at Ground Zero of the Internet boom of the mid-90s. Then he provides this bottom-up analysis:
"The numbers should tell you all you need to know: There are an estimated 20 million bloggers out there. Now, we can assume that 90 percent, even 99 percent, are largely novelties put up by folks who stick their Web journals up for a few weeks then move on to something else, perhaps adding a new entry every month or two.
But even in the most pessimistic scenario, that still leaves 200,000 serious bloggers out there, scattered throughout the world, talking about everything under the sun, from politics to pet care, shoes to spelunking. That's 200,000 entrepreneurial startups, 50 times that of the number of new dot-coms a decade ago. That's more than enough critical mass to kick off a boom."
I think Malone's attack on the Attack of the Blogs is entirely appropriate. If you require more proof that Forbes has missed the mark with its cover story, try this more balanced article by Kevin Allison from The Financial Times entitled Who's afraid of the big, bad blog? Coincidentally, it was published last week on the same day as Michael Malone's article.
(Blog entry by Nathan Rudyk. Nathan is President of market2world communications inc.)