Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Oh cool! Dvorak is bashing blogs again. It must be that time of year again. He probably needs more traffic.

Oops. I broke my promise not to make fun of journalists who don't blog... But I'll make an exception for journalists who like to tease me too.

UPDATE: Steve Gillmor takes the bait and responds to Dvorak.


He's totally right -- maybe you just don't know it yet.

He actually makes good valid points... i tend to agree with him. sorry :(

Well actually he's making valid points from the statistics... therefore if he notices valid statistics one could assume that he has valid points based on them... and that's exactly what he has done with his views about blogs "...are sure to become the future of journalism. Well, hardly." Hardly indeed.

I think Dvorak totally misses the point. I haven't updated my blog for quite sometime. But that is the beauty of blogging.
If a commercial news site (or private non-blog) web site stops updating, people would no longer visit their site.
But with blogs you can update it only when needed. After you spend a long vacation in an isolated island (and stops bloggin for weeks or months), when you come back and upload post your entry, people all over the world would immediately notice you are back to the blog world via RSS readers and such services as

So unlike people writing regular columns for PC magazines (I am one of them) , you don't have to fill up the article space by bothering other people just because you couldn't find any better things to write about.

"I haven't updated my blog for quite sometime. But that is the beauty of blogging.
If a commercial news site (or private non-blog) web site stops updating, people would no longer visit their site.
But with blogs you can update it only when needed."

thats exactly his point and thats why he questions, and so do I, blogs becoming the future of journalism.

What IS journalism? "The future of journalism"? Weblogs are just another medium.. another organism introduced into the ecosystem. "Journalism", as some may define the task or reporting facts and events (I call that history writing myself, and what passes for journalism these days is just so much hokum, but I digress), will be and is already going to be affected by this "newish" medium.

"How" remains to be seen. Some of us have an idea, some don't. Normal.

How was "journalism" affected by the introduction of televison? Of radio? Of print?

Of weblogs... (And don't think for a second that what we have today is the end-al be-all of the technology in question.)

I hate to say it, but articles of Dvorak's genre are tabloid fodder, pure and simple. He's *always* the sensationalist, as is Orlowski. Something to justify one's paycheque by. Buy in or don't.

"Weblogs are just another medium.. another organism introduced into the ecosystem."

This is not what I am questioning nor the writer... I am basically agreeing with him on one point in which he questions blogs becoming the future of journalism to which I agree with him on.

"How was "journalism" affected by the introduction of televison? Of radio? Of print?"

sure blogs are in some sense are a part of the "ecosystem" as you say in some SMALL way. I compare it to the 1000 monkeys with type writers. you put them down for long enough and over a given time of random typing of keys you might get something decent.

point in case: if you give a thousand people pianos to play music does that make them musicians... dont bother answering its a rhetorical question to which the answer is obvious... no it doesnt!

weblogs are a new concept, and they are interesting, the fact that iam typing this comment on joi itos weblog suggests that i am here reading his stuff and responding to it. but is this journalism or the future of it... i dont think so. i think joi, as much as i like his stuff and blog, should think more carefully before making fun of someone that just doesnt agree with him.

Been trying to stay outta this, but...

First off, please don't ever compare Dvorak to Orlowski, that's just not fair to either of them. Second, anyone here attempting to get through to Joi (a very cool, fun, intelligent guy) or Boris is wasting their time. They are both heavily invested (as in real money) in the survival of blogging, so don't expect them to slit their own throats by giving an inch on the idea that blogging is the 'future'.

To Boris, the difference between journalism and blogging is that journalism is a Profession. As such, professionals in that realm are held to a certain standard of excellence. The fact that some news orgs don't uphold that standard doesn't erase that fact that the standard exists. This blurring between journalism and blogging is getting dangerous legally.

Recently Choira Sicha of Gawker wrote a post that suggested Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson was a cocaine user. The post was meant to be a joke. Personally, when I read it, I totally thought it was true...because many of the things on Gawker happen to be true (and I don't know Anderson personally, nor should I have to in order to read Gawker and 'get it'). I, and many others, didn't get the "joke." Later, after some high profile tech industry people hit his email box, Choira came forward and clarified that he was joking and apologized. Since more often than not, Gawker posts factually true information, it can't be considered in the same category as The Onion. So, I'm thinking the only reason Gawker isn't looking at a lawsuit is because Chris Anderson/Wired uses content from Gizmodo, a Gawker sister company. But if he wasn't affiliated with the company, things might have turned out much differently.

The status of blogs are...dangerously vague. For this reason, I don't really consider Gawker a 'blog'. I think the distinction should be: if it's a real news source (a la Gawker, The Kicker, Gizmodo, Dan Gillmor etc.) then it's not a 'blog' it's a (gossip, tech, news) COLUMN. I think blogs are inherently amateuristic and not beholden to any professional standard. If you get paid to do it, it's not a blog. To get specific: Blog comes from the combination of WEB and LOG. That means, essentially, a diary. Not a news source. Those who try to sell news columns/websites as BLOGS are simply engaging in clever of-the-moment-meme MARKETING. Many of you seem to be buying it hook line and sinker. Bottom line, I think Dvorak's article is mostly correct, and those arguing against it remind me of those who practiced selective blindness during the dot com boom.

Joi said,
"Oops. I broke my promise not to make fun of journalists who don't blog"

Wow, snark from the Ito-meister! To me this statement says that either Joi knows absolutely nothing about the Profession of Journalism, OR that he does and he's just pushing his agenda as an investor in the future of blogging. Probably a little of both. Doesn't change the fact that I think he's a cool dude. I just don't agree on his position.

I'm just joking around because it's Dvorak. He's a friend and I enjoy him, but I don't want to take him any more seriously than he is taking himself.

I think the Journalist vs journalist debate is tired and have don't see what the point of it is actually. I see journalist who are becoming Journalists and some Journalists who are becoming journalists. I think we're arguing over words.

And as long as we're playing with words...

Isn't a journal a diary? Isn't a journalist one who writes diaries? Wasn't the Wall Street Journal originally a log of the days events on Wall Street? I understand the paid vs. not-paid distinction, but should we just say professional journalist vs. amateur journalist?

Ah, but they aren't just "words." A trained professional is just that, "trained." An amateur is an amateur. If some amateur slips through and manages to get paid for their work, bravo. That doesn't suddenly make all bloggers Journalists. Again, the fact that you don't think the Journalist versus journalist argument is important, is to me a direct indication that you do not understand the craft. And yes, it's a craft, not just "writing stuff," as you seem to infer.

A licensed dentist can extract a tooth from my mouth. So can a 12 year old kid with a pair of pliers. Who do I want, nay, who do I TRUST to remove my tooth? Such a dynamic is not infallable or without exception, but I'll take the odds associated with a trained professional, in any profession, any day. Joi, face it, blogs are the Karaoke of Journalism, plain and simple. You, and others holding your position, are engaged in the selling of Karaoke machines. Everyone can sing, right? ;^)

You're trying to drag me into this aren't you Jon? OK So what about me? I haven't been trained, but I used to have a column in the Daily Yomiuri, a Japanese newspaper, a regular column in MacWorld Japan, Asahi Pasocom and a few other magazines. I've written an op ed that got published in the Asian WSJ and was on the masthead of Mondo 2000 and Wired. So what am I? Define me. And don't give me "training". There are a lot of trained journalists who suck and a lot of untrained journalists who publish great stuff and get paid for it. My point is that it isn't "plain and simple."

"Define me."

You are a veteran technologist/programmer who has consistently made some sort of impact in your area of focus. Thus, you are qualified to speak intelligently on this matter. If a dentist creates a blog, I damn sure want to read it because I'm sure I'll learn something about teeth. That doesn't mean that the dentist, or you, are good writers. In those publications, you were being paid for your expertise, not necessarily your writing talent. Since you, like me (and Bill Gates for that matter), are someone who left college to autodidactly train themselves, I sense that you dislike the elitisms that often come with "training." I often share this feeling. But in many areas, training is important. I think Journalism is one of those areas.

There are trained Journalists and dentists who suck. Of course. Training doesn't guarantee perfection. It guarantees a Standard. Standards are important to ensure the overall health of any craft. The fact that the Standard isn't always upheld doesn't diminish the need for its existence.

Back to Karaoke... So Elizabeth Spiers went from blogger to New York magazine blogger. To me, that looks like American Idol/Star Search. Period. Ask her to write a 4000 word cover story for Vanity Fair "then" talk to me after she's kicked ass on "that" assignment. Until then, she's a great Karaoke singer who has yet to prove she can create a hit or work a 50 city tour. Maybe she'll acquire these skills while at New York magazine. If so, that only serves to prove that "training", even belatedly while on the job, is what makes good product.

Professional writers from the Establishment engaging in "blogging"... Another Karaoke example. When American Idol (the Karaoke of television) first debuted, many professional musicians decried it as phony, bad for music. Now that it's popular with the public, you regularly see major professional singers appearing on these Karaoke shows doing duets with amateur singers. Similarly, professional Journalist go where the money/exposure is. So, they tell people they are "blogging" when what they are really doing is writing a daily opinion column. 90% of the professional writers who say they are "blogging" today will, after blogging falls out of favor (as it inevitably will/has) consider it an insult if you say they are "blogging." Right now they wear it as a badge of hipness. Tomorrow they will shun it. Karaoke is only as cool as the in-crowd thinks it is Today.

Joi, yes, everyone CAN sing. But not well. Training and Standards serve to weed out the bad singers.

The Truth: When Google develops a Daily Blogging Bot for each category (news, health, tech, entertainment, etc.) that randomly selects topics on which to post blurbs and solicit comment, THEN you will know the true nature of Blogging. Only THEN will you understand the difference between Journalists and journalists; the difference between Journalists and Bloggers. Until that day (which is fast approaching), it's a race to the finish line to see who can sell the most Karaoke machines.

Jon. You're right. I don't like the term "training". It always reminds me of the phrase, "they may be stupid, but they're trainable!" I think Journalism isn't just about good writing. I think a lot of it is about a code of conduct that is isn't hard to learn, but hard to follow. There is skill involved, but I don't think it's about having a degree in journalism. Anyway...

I think that blogging is really a tool. I don't think the (j|J)ournalism debate and your selling karaoke machines debate are necessarily linked directly. People still sell karaoke boxes because karaoke is fun. Blogging is not just about journalism. It's about diaries, about presidential campaigns, sharing photos, small communities and about simply replacing stupid old content management systems. We're going to make money selling blogging tools regardless of whether it is called blogging or whether we're journalists or Journalists. The journalist is just a small portion of people who I believe will end up blogging.

Joi said,
"I think Journalism isn't just about good writing. I think a lot of it is about a code of conduct that is isn't hard to learn, but hard to follow."

Agreed. Ah, but there's the rub. It is the Training that pushes one towards "consistently following" that code of conduct. Untrained craftsmen/women have no such imperative to follow the code. They do whatever they want, hence you aren't encouraged by them to rely on the quality of their product. One of the most common blogger sentences I read is, "I read this somewhere, but I'm not sure if it's true. " That's why the Blair/Glass scandals were so huge. More is expected of them as paid Professionals. Blogs regularly plagerize, get facts wrong, and simply lie, and there is no outcry. (re: Wired editor sniffing coke in the bathroom) There's the difference.

And your J-school observation is not necessarily revelatory, most veteran journalists will tell you that J-School isn't necessary, as most of "them" didn't attend J-School. Training doesn't mean J-school, it means Training under a professional eye, how ever you manage to set that situation up.

Karaoke again... I noticed you didn't address the Google Blog Bot idea I mentioned. I'm not surprised, because you probably know it's really coming and that it will be the beginning of the end for the notion of "professional" [oxymoron] blogs, thus the end of blogging being in the media/hype/hot paradigm spotlight. I point to Vocaloid. The software renders a great human-sounding song ( But we all know that the value of a song to humans is (usually) the emotion the human singing brings to the song. So, this software will probably fuel many service oriented song duties: Malls, trains, airplanes, etc. But (most of the time) when we want meaningful music, we won't choose Vocaloid, we'll look for a human voice.

Alternately, I think when Google Blog Bots arrive, they will quickly make obsolete many of the blogs that consider themselves professional. For deep meaningful stories, we'll look to humans. For pure blog-style news bites, we'll look to the Google Blog Bot or The USA Today Blog Bot.

I agree with you that blogs are first and foremost a tool. But think we should get away from the notion that this tool suddenly makes anyone a potential Journalist. It just doesn't. A gun and a badge doesn't make you a cop. What separates the Pro from the Amateur is Training and responsibility to the craft and the audience.

The dude behind this recent effort ( has basically figured out the future of blogs, the only problem with his model is that he lacks the bot technology to automate his blogs, so he's trying to get humans to do the drudgery. If he had bots doing this, (and a better brand name) this would take off.

And, pushing me ever closer to the Dvorak "dark side" is his great retort to Gillmor's original retort:

"I'm not arguing that blogging sucks. I'm saying that it's been co-opted and the bloggers are cheering stupidly instead of taking action and rejecting faux bloggers and faux blogs."


full message:


You are very much on the money here.


The tricky thing about your enthusiasm for weblogging is you have got money in it which means (to me) that you are obligated to push it as the next big thing.

Is the real question "who is a Journalist?" If you go to school and take language classes and learn to "write" are you not trained? Are you not just debating about the degree of training?
And not to be insulting to Jjournalists but I find it difficult to "buy" the comparison
Journalist = Dentist or Journalist = Cop with gun.
To me a Journalist is someone who writes "stuff" Weather its true or not, weather the content follows a "code" or not is only relevant if the consumer of the product thinks it is.
Why I Blog.
You know when you call an old friend or family member on the phone after not speaking to them for a while.
Old friend: "Rick, how ya doing? What have you been up too? Long time no speak."
Rick: " Not much, Same shit different day. You know how it is. What's new with you?"
Old friend: "Not much...."
Blogging gives my friends (new or old) and family a window into my life. They can see what I see, know what I'm thinking/doing on a somewhat regular basis. And they/I can do this at there/my leisure, when they/I have the time not when "we" both find it convenient.
Keeping in touch is not a forced event when you blog about your life. How many people do we loose touch with over the course of a lifetime because we just can't maintain a positive information flow?

Blogging also makes me more aware of my personal goals. When I write them down for the world to see (even if the world's not looking) Blogging about goals seems to drive me to find the ending to the story. I am the consumer of my written word, I faithfully read my rants. I enjoy my "unprofessional" attempts at journalism. I am a journalist to me.

Sir, you have just proved my point. Might I respectfully point out that you meant to use "whether" not "weather" twice in the your passage:

"Weather its true or not, weather the content follows a 'code' or not is only relevant if the consumer of the product thinks it is."

THIS is why training is important, and not just anyone who has the tools to write should be considered a legitimate Journalist. And, to answer your question, I think your own passage proves that, yes, the 'code' is very relevant; 'this' consumer of 'your' product certainly thinks it is. ;^)

Are you that gifted? Or does your work not require proofing before it goes to print? I think I may need an editor to continue this conversation, as I fear I may not be understood due to my poor grammar (and spelling).
But I will try and weather on:)
"I think your own passage proves that, yes, the 'code' is very relevant; 'this' consumer of 'your' product certainly thinks it is. ;^)"
Are you 'really' a consumer of "my product?" I found it interesting that you choose to focus on my grammar and not the meaning in my "poorly written" words to prove your point.
Let me get this straight, if I understand you correctly the 'code’s’ all about grammar? Interesting. So you’re saying if I were more attentive in my English classes I would be a Journalist?
By the way, my poor grammar did not mutilate anyone’s smile nor did it shoot anyone due to lack of training.

n 1: a writer for newspapers and magazines 2: someone who keeps a diary or journal.

I keep a daily journal so why can I not be a Journalist Jon?
My point is also proven.
If a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound if no one is listening?
If a journalist writes something and no one reads it, is he still a journalist?

Running Vs. Jogging
“Usually, the distinction is made in a condescending way, with running taken to be superior to jogging. Some runners like to puff themselves up by noting others’ speed and saying “ Oh, he’s just a jogger” Well, We’re all slower than someone else”. ~The complete Idiot’s guide to Running by Bill Rodgers and Scott Douglas.~

Ah, dude, you took it personal. That's a shame. Rock on though and keep whethering the storm. ;^)

For the record, I am not "deeply invested" in anything, let alone blogs. Shame though... wish I was. ;)

Jon: Trolling proves no point.

Again, weblogs are a medium, nothing more. "Journalism", whatever that is, will feel some effects of this new medium, as it already has, and as it did with the introduction of previous mediums such as print, radio, televeison, et al.

The debate between professional and amateur is utterly irrelevant.

Kindly dismount your high horse sir... especially since it seems to in no way improve your view of what lies ahead.

After several long, in-depth posts here which were totally respectful to Joi (notice 'Joi' didn't resort to calling anyone a troll) and contained reasonable points, I hardly think one bit of witty retort towards the end adds up to "troll". If you disagree with me, rip me to shreds with great ideas, not your 'own' brand of snark. Have you been reading this thread? To Joi, thanks for indulging this thread, we disagree, but you still rock. To Boris: Great ideas/arguments speak much louder than righteous indignation.

Thanks for the dialog. Most enjoyable.
How can anyone take something as anonymous as this "personal"?
I was just trying to make a point on the irrelevance of grammar in supporting your argument. I found a couple of mistakes in Joi's grammar but pointing it out has no relevance on him being considered a "journalist" I think that a journalist is comparable to an artist, actor, musician not a dentist, police officer, accountant.
The consequences of being a shoddy journalist are an apology
on the other hand the consequences of being a bad cop, dentist, accountant are prison.
To view them in the same light for the purpose of this discussion is
just plain wrong.
My blog makes me a journalist, a writer, a voice. Joi's blog makes U and I engage in conversation where there was just spare time. It would appear that you seem to enjoy a little
Karaoke and you fancy yourself a singer.
To think a technology has completed its lifecycle, when the masses have yet to experience it, before we have seen it evolve into what it will be. To Judge it based on "Old news" in my opinion is just poor journalism.
P.S. What is the headline from the above?
"Rick say's 'grammar is irrelevant' ;)

Jon: No righteous indignation whatsoever. I have no intention to "rip" anyone "to shreds". Rather I tend to gently nudge folks to a greater understanding, but "You can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink."

Forgive me for interrupting your conversation. I believe you were discussing grammar and training and how these somehow have something to do with journalism.

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He doesn't make valid points, he notices valid statistics. The fact that a lot of people quit blogging just means that "bandwagonners" get off as quick as they get on. Read More