Yes, I’m posting about weblogs on a weblog. This officially defines me as “meta.” Fear my meta-ness. Fear it.
This posting over at Slashdot, a site which I’ve typically held in high regard, is pretty indicative of the problems currently facing the average consumer of web-based journalism. Read it carefully, then read it again.
It’s not news, nor is it, necessarily, informed opinion; it’s just a posting on a website. it could have been made by any one of us. It could have even been me (It wasn’t. I’m not THAT meta.).
Why is this a problem? Because someone, somewhere will invariably read what has been written in that space (and dozens more just like it) as fact. Why is THAT a problem? Read my headline and then imagine the same headline on ten other websites, some of which may actually attempt to report it as fact. Sound far-fetched? It isn’t. It’s happened before. Grab your wikipedia and look under: Bubble, ca. 1998-2001.
When there’s money involved, separating fact from fiction is critical. And Buster, there’s always money involved. My advice: Be critical.
The article linked to goes beyond questionable tech stock valuation to outright conspiracy mongering, claiming that Web 2.0 (blogs, wikis. DIGG, etc.) will be the end of privacy as we know it. It’s worth reading for those who are nostalgic for “The Internet Will Eat Your Soul” FUD pieces from the mid-nineties, but fairly worthless for all other purposes. Particulary news gathering.
A far more interesting (and informative) article on Web 2.0 can be found at Business Week. Those of us who were around when HTML was new and interesting will recognize both flavors of articles. For better or worse, Web 2.0 has now been around long enough to amass “demographic clout.” Instead of fearing my meta-ness, I think it may be time to fear your own.