Gawk Gawk Gawk

I have to admit that at some point in the last few months Gawker Media turned a corner and is doing consistently strong investigative journalism* across all their blogs, the likes of which the Huffington Post used to do before they went all sensationalistic tabloid entertainment bullshit on us. I used to write Gawker off as tabloid bullshit generator but they don't have too many peers writing about similar insider leaks these days.

* ignoring that ugly "outing the Apple engineer that lost a phone" thing

The unfortunate mainstreaming of internet douchebaggery

Today someone spammed MetaFilter on behalf of Conde Nast publications, and it pissed me off way more than the average occasional spammy self-promoter on MeFi. We have a strict rule at MeFi (since there's no editorial vetting upfront) that you can't post about your own stuff, you have to make posts to interesting random stuff you found on your own. Unfortunately, that doesn't matter to the douchebags intent on ruining the web for everyone else with search engine gaming, as long as they benefit their clients, so we end up having to delete these keyword-laden posts that feature over the top fake testimonials about sites they "found" when they really worked for them.

What pissed me off today was seeing a normally reputable outfit like Conde Nast stooping to hiring a dodgy firm that employs such lame spammy activities. I know the response from Conde Nast or the spammy SEO company will be the same I've heard a thousand times: "It was one rogue employee" or "We didn't know the firm would employ such tactics." I heard the same thing when the Times (UK) was found spamming social sites earlier this year.

The point that seemed to be lost in the Times story was that a cornerstone of journalism that had been publishing for hundreds of years would stoop to such lame-brained antics. You'd think that someone higher up at a place like that would think maybe getting a couple percent more advertising revenue by ethically shady means wasn't worth jeopardizing the reputation or position of a 223 year old newspaper — that institutions with a long-term vision shouldn't be interested in a quick buck by any means possible.

It's a bummer to see Conde Nast hiring someone to "optimize" search engines for them (where "optimize" means spam the web and generally make social sites and tools less useful for everyone in the hopes they do better for certain key search phrases) but given the way the economy is going and where it is headed, I suspect we'll see a lot more big name outfits and longstanding institutions making these same mistakes and resorting to problematic methods of increasing their bottom line, and frankly it sucks for everyone involved. It sucks for anyone using the web and wanting decent honest search results based on real quality of information (not just the information promoted by self-interested parties). It sucks to see industry leaders with dozens or even hundreds of years of successful business think this is a sensible approach to the web. Finally, it sucks to see some chucklehead get paid to spam websites in ways that are becoming so normal that people think this is something every business should do.

Flickr: Photos from oregonianphoto

This is wicked cool: Flickr: Photos from oregonianphoto

Someone from the big state newspaper The Oregonian is posting all the photos that go with stories in the paper to Flickr. I found it because I follow my small town’s photos by flickr tag feeds. The paper gets new readers by mixing it up on Flickr, and they get to sell more photo reprints of stuff people like.

People keep saying that the internet is going to kill newspapers but stuff like this is the future: mixing a paper’s output with related web communities that benefits both parties in the end.

A broken TV tastes like eating crow

I’ve been meaning to write a post about all the stupid articles and references to a couple people that have tossed their Wii controllers so hard it broke their television. I’ve been playing about 30 minutes a day for the past week and having a controller slip out of your hand just seemed ridiculous. I was so confident in this assertion that I took the leash out of the remote when I first set it up. I noticed a bunch of blogs linking to the broken TV stories and the press seemed to glom onto it because it’s a funny new angle they can deflate the Wii hype with. You’d have to be a total spazz to not only need the leash but also break it, and then break your TV too.

Blogs and newspapers both love to do this: find a silly outlier story to discredit/attack/mock a new trend. The “you’ll hurt each other playing a Wii” and “you’ll break your TV!” stories definitely fill the bill and allow a pundit or blogger to scoff at anything interesting, new, or innovative in something like the Wii and just make jokes about it. I’d also say jokes about the Zune coming in brown or Microsoft employees calling file transfers “squirting” is doing the same thing to the Zune: overshadowing the actual innovative feature that lets you share songs with random people nearby (I’ll never own a Zune but I wish my iPods could do that).

Anyway, this is just a long way of saying last night I was playing the training part of the Sports disc, where you can bowl with up to 96 pins. You have to throw the ball as hard as you can, and while doing this the controller slid clear out of my hand. It banked off the fireplace in front of me with so much force that it bounced directly up into the ceiling where it hit hard and bounced back down. It missed the TV above the fireplace by a couple of inches.

So I guess the moral of the story is you should really use those little leash things and I’m a bigger spazz than I thought.