Dirty dogs

My dad was a journalist. So was his dad. Surprise.

And he told me lots of tales. Wonderful tales. I remember one about a real yellow journalism fight between two papers in Somewhere, USA, called the Post and the Sun. Might have been New York, before my time.

In an editorial, the Sun called the Post a “dirty dog”. And the next day the Sun carried a simple editorial response: The Post called the Sun a dirty dog. The attitude of the Sun to the Post is that of any dog to any post.

Those were the days.

I feel the same way about this story. A smiling Truman holding ”Dewey defeats Truman”. And I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it feels not to be able to just cut and paste the related photo, because of potential infringement of image rights. Even reading through the Wikipedia warning made my skin go cold. Digital Wrongs Management.

I was named after a relatively famous Indian freedom fighter, in fact he was meant to have been my godfather. I have no memory of ever meeting him. Sometime in 1977 I think the BBC World Service announced he had died. And he hadn’t, so a correction was issued. So the guys at my university thought it must have been me. [But that was in another story, Malcolm, and besides the wench is dead.]

The point is that big media do make mistakes. Lots of them. And corrections tend to be published in the most unlikely places, always at odds with where the uncorrected story ran.

Now, as we move into real use of social software, we have the opportunity to make new mistakes. But the mistakes tend to be out in the open, and the speed of correction is high. And the corrected versions are in exactly the same place where the errors were.

Big difference.

Blogs are not big media replacements. They are different. Period. And who knows, I will learn from big media about blogs as well. I tend to spend time watching my kids using MySpace and seeing how they do things, without the corruptions in thought and practice that someone like me has, without that bag and baggage.

Incidentally, did Bill Gates invent opensource? Opensource testing, that is. I wonder.

Let me know what you think

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