I’ve been reading Dave Taylor’s writing for the past year+ and he garnered plenty more fans before me. He’s an accomplished entrepreneur, techie and writer. For the past week over at iAOCblog.com (International Association of Online Communicators) he’s been covering the topics of bias, conflicts, disclosure and ethics. I match his school of thought that almost all blogging contains elements of bias. In fact, part of what separates blogging from other media is that biases often define the long-tail niche where a blogger builds his/her audience.
This foundation can be seen in a quote from the first post of his series, “Quick, now, are YOU biased?“
“I’m going to start this week out by proposing that everyone is biased, everyone will tend to make allowances for their friends’ behavior while castigating the same from someone they don’t know or from a social or racial group they dislike. Everyone will review a restaurant owned by their parents differently from one owned by the annoying woman down the block with the loud Mercedes, and everyone will be less likely to use an online service whose director of marketing is a former lover who left for the arms of another.”
Dave followed that post with “How disclosing does disclosure need to be?“, including perspective like:
“What concerns me is that if we go too far with disclaimers, it becomes very difficult to know where to draw the line, to figure out where you don’t have to disclaim what you write. For example, I’ve been a cinemaphile for as long as I can remember, have watched thousands of movies and read at least fifty different books on film theory and interpretation. Along the way, I have found certain directors who I believe are brilliant (Lean, Hitchcock, Kubrick) and others that I think can’t direct their way out of a paper bag (Lynch, Tarantino). Clearly, I’m biased and, heck, you probably don’t agree with my bias. So should I disclaim my bias before I write about film, review a movie or even talk about an actor or production?”
His third post of the series, “Are bloggers EXPECTED to me more ethical than everyone else?“, also echoed my acceptance that the ‘sphere contains a diverse population of participants and motivations:
“I have had conversations with many bloggers who believe that blogging is apparently a higher calling, that to be a successful blogger you must be hyper-ethical, completely transparent and a model, upstanding citizen who eschews all aspects of capitalism. After all, doesn’t information want to be free?….I don’t agree with them. A blog is a tool that makes publishing more convenient and like any tool, it’s up to individuals to make it work for their own needs and requirements. While I applaud those people who put in 50-hour weeks gratis because they believe in what they’re writing about and they’re passionate about sharing their view, I also applaud those bloggers who are experimenting and trying to figure out how to make blogging work for them financially as well as professionally.”
Dave’s closing post of the week, “Psstt… wanna buy a link from my blog, buddy?“, got to the bottom of what he teased all week: whether bloggers should accept payment for their blogging efforts. He makes some pretty bold statements, including support for one of my portfolio companies, PayPerPost, but instead of just quoting him here, I’ll let you enjoy his post in its entirety.
On almost every topic he covered, I wish he’d gone deeper. He is right for plenty of reasons that he didn’t bother including. At the same time, I think most of his points have already been proven out as the real world joined the blog world. The ‘sphere is as diverse as the world is big, and each blogger will succeed or fail based upon pleasing their audience, biases and all.
BTW: I’m biased in a variety of ways about Dave and this topic (see FVB’s Disclosure Policy, http://www.disclosurepolicy.org/ and any number of related prior posts here), so consider me conflicted, opinionated and generally shaped by a world-view that people have the right to live by their own choices, preferably influenced by reason, not mobs.