Thursday, January 25, 2007

David Pogue with the smack-down on Microsoft and we bribe-able bloggers

David Pogues waxes snarkalicious here. Key excerpt:

Now, I realize it must be hard to send a shiny new laptop back to the mother ship just because it's the right thing to do. Still, I think very little of the bloggers who are keeping Microsoft's bribe laptops.

Clearly, they're exploiting the lawless, Brave New World of the blogsophere, where, since they're Not Quite Journalists, they don't feel constrained by any of those pesky journalistic ethics guidelines. Like the one that says, "You don't keep $2,200 gifts from the subject of your review. You might think you can still write an impartial review, but it's highly unlikely-and either way, nobody will believe it."

But Microsoft gets much of the blame, too. It deliberately exploited a weak spot in today's court of public opinion: how bloggers influence consumers, but generally don't have conflict-of-interest policies.

You know, David, I'd have a lot more respect for this column, and agree with it wholeheartedly if it contained any data whatsoever about what bloggers actually did in response to this offer. How many disclosed receiving the free laptop? How many sent it back? How many kept it.

I'm just saying "Hello kettle? You're black", only in your case it's not keeping an evaluation unit, it's making a sweeping implication without any back-up.

[Oh, and in case my readers are wondering, No, I still haven't received the laptop, and yes, I'm probably going to find a worth girls and technology charity to pass it on to. Option #2 (and the only other option I'm considering) is returning it with the shipping airbill I asked Microsoft to provide.]

Comments:
You wrote: "I'd have a lot more respect for this column, and agree with it wholeheartedly if it contained any data whatsoever about what bloggers actually did in response to this offer. How many disclosed receiving the free laptop? How many sent it back? How many kept it."

I wrote that the only people I'm disgusted with are the bloggers who are KEEPING the bribe laptops. (Particularly those who didn't disclose this fact in their reviews.)

So how many sent the laptops back is irrelevant; they're not the ones I'm unhappy with. (We do know that some of the bloggers kept the laptops--I quoted one of them.)

And we do know that Microsoft has repeatedly tried to influence public opinion by these sorts of stealth bribes.

It's unethical and wrong.
 
Sure. But come on...you use these particular bloggers as a jumping point to make more sweeping statements, such as: "they're exploiting the lawless, Brave New World of the blogsophere, where, since they're Not Quite Journalists, they don't feel constrained by any of those pesky journalistic ethics guidelines" and "how bloggers influence consumers, but generally don't have conflict-of-interest policies."

Those are generalized statements about the blogosphere...and they undercut your commentary.

What I mean is that I believe it's too easy to dismiss your comments as the hyperbole of a defensive, threatened old media guy when you try to paint the entire blogosphere with that brush rather than stick to the very real and deserved controversy that arose in this case.
 
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