… Suck, home of barely bite-sized bursts of uninformative bile with the depth of insight of a college newspaper op-ed.
In 2001 some questions arose. The most important are summarized here:
…without Suck, who will challenge America’s foulest blowhards? Without Suck you’ve got a whole country of people who think loathsome drizzlerods like Maureen Dowd are incredibly daring and insightful and self-infatuated lardasses like Thomas L. Friedman are shrewd commentators on the world scene. Without Suck who’s going to challenge the sad little weasels with nothing going for them? Without Suck it’s just grinning idiots all the way down, Steve Martin humor columns, asswipe behind-the-scenes specials about the making of Tomb Raider.
Critics criticize, analysts analyze, and I’m not sure what “celebrities” do. I myself have been taking little jabs at this web publishing thing since 1995, offering criticism and analysis, and lots of general ranting and raving and discussions of the weather. I have never hit the peaks like the people at Suck. For the last four and a half years I’ve been pulling forty hours a week on a long term Network Management contract and my writing has suffered. It’s my goal to get into that sophomoric Suck zone once and for all, to provide critical insights, reasoned analysis, and entertaining schtick.
I haven’t been to Gnomedex since I drove to Des Moines the summer of 2002. There, I met Chris Pirillo, Doc Searls, Evan Williams, Leo Laporte, and a bunch of other wonderful people. I hung out with George Partington. I missed meeting or perhaps only met in passing Michael Fraase. I hope to correct that some day! Michael is a writer I’d like to get to know. Later that fall, I met Doc again at Digital ID World in Denver. Doc was getting comped to some of these conferences (though not Gnomedex) and making a living with his writing. I wanted Doc’s job! Of course, Doc had paid some dues and he had Cluetrain under his belt.
It’s been my privilege to participate in “the conversation” for a good many years now and before that I perhaps earned the right by helping a few decent sized companies to move their businesses to the web, (and before that, and before that…)
I’ve learned a little about who has a thin skin and about how unfair ad hominem arguments can be. Irony drips… have you ever noticed that those who set themselves up as pundits, and arbiters of what’s hip, hep or the other thing usually are the most thin skinned when people call them on their shit?
Robert Scoble, popular tech blogger and all around hail-fellow-well-met, made a little vid piece celebrating “micro-celebrity” and modestly asserting his own micro-celebrity status. “Micro” indeed, the fellow hasn’t even hit his Facebook 5000 friend limit yet. But in the pop-tech world he is an influencer, as is his friend Dave Winer. When the two of these “micro-celebrities” start ragging on their friend Chris Pirillo, the promoter of the best boutique pop-tech conference in the US, there is a danger they will be taken seriously and Gnomedex will suffer. [Disclosure: I read Winer regularly and feel well informed by him. I read Scoble infrequently, usually only at the peak of a link baiting campaign, a self promotional form at which he excels.]
Fortunately, I think Chris has an inner compass and a good enough sense of himself to take their criticism with a grain of salt. What would drag me out of the Midwest and back to Gnomedex next year? Certainly I’m not interested in seeing a micro-celebrity bitch slapping contest. The economics and technology talk coming out of this year’s Gnomedex, combined with the fact that this is the year of “infrastructure” lead me to this suggestion for Chris as he plans next year’s gathering: instead of a keynote, why not have a “street fight?” Take a hot market analyst like Steve Kamman, and an Internet guru like David Reed, two people whose perspectives may not be perfectly aligned, and let them duke it out conversationally on-stage for the edification of us all.
Something like this, would be a breath of fresh air for those of us who are bored by the Silly Valley cliqueishness and tired of micro-celebrities posturing, and it would be perfectly in the tradition of Gnomedex opening up new perspectives for us, the users.