The flap about the Web 2.0 Conference trademark has shaken my faith in the collective intelligence of the blogosphere. Of all the hundreds of people who commented on this issue, only a few touched base to do a bit of fact checking. The New York Times, by contrast, was all over doing due-diligence. They talked to everyone they could get their hands on before publishing their story.
Quite rightly, Tim posts something balanced, reasonable, and chiding in its tone to the bloggers who, in his absence, decided a witch-hunt was in order. What’s more, he takes IT@Cork organiser Tom Raferty to task for whipping up the storm of hysteria, having had an email from Tim prior to the cease and desist from CMP (NOT, note, from O’Reilly). As Tim puts it:
Given that Tom and I had previously had a conversation where I wished him the best of luck with his conference, while the lawyer’s letter came from CMP, I would have thought that he would have wondered whether the right hand knew what the left hand was doing before launching and then encouraging the torrent of net vitriol that’s come our way. He did call CMP to talk to the lawyer who wrote the letter, but he never tried to contact me. While he acknowledges that the letter was from CMP, he used O’Reilly’s name in the headline and repeatedly throughout the piece for maximum net impact. So while we owe Tom an apology for heavy-handed tactics, I think Tom owes us an apology for the way he responded.
This vitriol, incidentally, included a posting implying O’Reilly was some sort of child molester!
The whole episode has reinforced the idea that I’ve had for some time that the so-called blogosphere is nothing but an echo chamber of lies. The wisdom of crowds is a sham: anyone who’s studied the actual behaviour of crowds understands that you don’t get wisdom from large crowds of people talking (hint: the phrase “baying mob” came into common currency for a reason).