Why does anybody even pay attention to this guy?

You know, I like me some Left Blogistan from time to time. Yeah, I read TPM, I read dKos, I read Atrios…they have their limitations, sure, but they’ve each of them in their own way been an important lifeline to sanity for me as this grotesque decade has unfolded.

One of the reasons I like Atrios in particular is that he has a knack for raising the right questions. And one of the most sensible of the many eminently valid questions he’s raised over the past few years is why an utter non-entity like Bill Kristol, who has never been identifiably right about a single stance he has taken in the entirety of his very public life, is regarded as any kind of an authority, let alone a source of useful and timely insight.

That’s how I feel about Robert Scoble.

To be sure, I had never heard of this worthy until the day a few years back when he and Dave Winer took it upon themselves to define moblogging…inaccurately and unnecessarily, as it turned out. I was unimpressed by this presumptuous introduction, to say the least, but figured it would be the last I heard of him. As both a “tech geek blogger” and a champion of Microsoft values, after all, he was working a decidedly different beat than mine.

The moblogging dust-up was apparently but a harbinger of things to come, though, because the name of Scoble kept cropping up in my world, and every time it did so it trailed behind it a spoor of wrongness. He was apparently the kind of person people looked to for understanding, and he used that privileged position to make shallow, even demonstrably stupid observations.

And you know what? That’s fine. Being wrong is OK. Being wrong is human. Like just about everybody else, I’m wrong plenty of the time – there’s no shame there. But you don’t get to be consistently wrong, and still enjoy the privilege of being taken seriously as any kind of an authority. Call it the Kristol Principle. (Or maybe the “Friedman”? That guy’s a lox, too.)

Far more seriously, Mr. Slavin would say, it’s not the being-wrong part so much as it’s the package that the wrongness comes in that’s the test of character, and this is a test that Robert Scoble has pretty clearly flunked.

I’ll leave it to the three of you who are actually interested to do the cursory legwork necessary to fill in the rest of the story; searching a string along the lines of paid Intel video should connect the relevant dots right quick. His latest contortions, in defense of behavior that on its face seems rather hard to justify, have completely undermined whatever credibility his book (on transparency in blogging, yet!) relied upon, and managed to piss off his well-respected co-author into the bargain.

Bottom line for me personally? I’ve never regarded the guy as authoritative or even interesting in any way, so I’m good. But just like the Sunday talkshows vis à vis Bill Kristol, anyone who now looks to Robert Scoble for comment or insight lends him a manifestly undeserved credibility, and in the long run such a choice can only reflect poorly on the person or institution making it.

I exempt my gracious hosts at LIFT from this assessment, on the grounds that they delivered their invitation to Mr. Scoble before the scope and nature of his current activities had come to light. But from this point forward, anybody giving him a pulpit does so with open eyes. And I, at least, will factor that into my understanding of the person or institution in question.

2 responses to “Why does anybody even pay attention to this guy?”

  1. Warren Frey says :

    I’ve got a similar rant on my site:

    http://www.freyburg.com/archives/2007/02/the_rise_and_fa_1.html

    that I actually posted mere seconds before winging over here and seeing your comments on Herr Scoble.

    I’m irked with the guy with going off on Engadget, but I think it’s his videocast which drives me the most bonkers. He’s got access to such good equipment, funding and presumably people, and yet the videos are poorly shot,dull, and show no sign of getting any better.

    By contrast, it’ll be interesting to see what happens when the motion design community jumps into vidcasting, if they haven’t already. That could be a case of too much in the opposite direction, but it beats a poorly composed, locked down shot of some dude at a patio table waxing on about supply chain management (or whatever.)

  2. speedbird says :

    I don’t read Engadget either.

    And keeping the players straight in the serial teapot shitstorms of internecine geek struggle? It’s like trying to untangle a civil war in Outer Kreplachistan: I don’t have the time or, frankly, the interest, and it all will have changed by next Tuesday anyway.

    Scoble only popped up on my radar because he and the unfailingly gracious and sensible Dave Winer emitted a series of howlers on a topic I had no small interest in at the time. Now that he has zero credibility, he’ll hopefully have the grace and wit to make himself scarce for the foreseeable future, and we can all get back to thinking about things which actually deserve our attention.

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