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February 11, 2008

Comments

Kenneth Wong

Hello, Bloggers, Journalists, Lurkers, and Readers!

(By the way, the order in which I've listed the groups in my greeting is alphabetical, so please don't take that as my belief in who takes precedence over whom.)

I write primarily for print magazines and Web sites with editorial oversight, so, for the purpose of this discussion, I fall into the "traditional press" category.

I've seen bloggers who adhere to the same standards and rigors that traditional reporters are expected to. They make sure their posts are factually accurate, evenhanded, and backed up by citations where needed. In fact, I frequently cite such bloggers in my writings to make my point about how the CAD community at large feels about certain issues.

I've also seen bloggers who are the opposite of those. For better or worse, most bloggers don't have to go through the editorial reviews that print writers are subjected to, so they can afford to be more provocative, personal, flamboyant, and colorful in their tone (I must admit I sometimes envy them for this). While I find them highly engaging and entertaining to read, I'd be reluctant to cite them as reliable sources.

I think eventually some bloggers will succeed in establishing credibility and garnering the attention of the industry at large because of the quality of their content. The vendors who ignore those bloggers' existence and words do so at their own peril, because these bloggers rightfully belong among the journalists and the media.

Perhaps it's moot to discuss whether bloggers should be considered journalists. Some are; others aren't. But it has nothing to do with where they write; it has everything to do with how they write.

This is a great topic. Thanks for bringing it up. My thoughts on your questions are as follows: (for purposes of full disclosure, please note that I own a PR/marketing company and am co-owner in a publishing firm. If that doesn't confuse you completely, well, then get yourself a decent Managing editor...I did.)
R
Who knows more about the software, blogger or journalist?
A current look at 'CAD bloggers' (when compared to so called 'established CAD press') is that a blogger tends towards expertise in one or two systems. The established press tend towards a responsibility that reaches across the entire market, and thus, as a jack of all CAD systems, cannot be a master of one. So, Solidworks bloggers definitely know more about Solidworks technology, AutoCAD bloggers the same, etc. That being said, some of the established press (Ralph G as a prime example) continue to develop very good books and manuals on using CAD software of their choice. So I would give them the same technical status that many of the bloggers also deserve.

Who knows more about the industry?
"Established press" have spent years combing through endless TLA-ridden vendor press releases, looking at software, listening to the words coming out of executives' mouths, and, for the good ones, developing a healthy sense of cynicism about what's being said. These guys definitely know more about the industry, but typically not the nuts and bolts of a specific CAD system.


Should bloggers be considered press?
Yes. They are the now and the future of industry reporting.

Does the press look down on bloggers?
None of my press contacts look down on the bloggers. I am aware of some vendors that take a snooty attitude, but I figure they will learn.
Vendors are very receptive to 'their bloggers' (Adesk and Sworks as an example) but I figure the real break will come when Autodesk invites a Solidworks blogger or 2 to its events. Then things will change a little.
Do bloggers look down on the press?
I think many of them shake their heads and wonder how this bunch of 'old farts' ever got accepted. (and at times I include the 'young farts' too.) What they may forget is that many of the 'established CAD press' started their days as users, some of them still use specific products in detail, and that it just turned out they were good at writing too!

Who does better in quality? Quantity? Timeliness? Insight?
It is entirely dependent on the subject at hand. While bloggers have the ability to get material out almost instantaneously, it does not necessarily mean the quality is higher. Press that save up the story for the next print run often have the ability to collect their thoughts and deliver a more detailed, quality article. But both are valid.

What is the role of blogger and journalist in the future?

All journalists will be using blogging technology soon. Almost all in the industry already are, even the 'old guys' over at Cyon (forgive me gents but I am also proud of you for getting it). The only differentiator soon will come down to subject - detailed CAD-specific editorial, compared to industry-wide coverage, and quality of the writing product.

Rach

Rachael Taggart

Matt

what (or who) are you referring to when you say " Anyway, the market has spoken. I have heard that these guys are out of business."
are you talking about Joel Orr or Machine Design, or what? To note, neither are out of business BTW although Machine Design's web site seems to be down today.

matt

Roopinder,

I'm glad you're raising these questions. It is clear to me that you are one of the people who "get it" about the differences and similarities. It seems you have more to gain than to lose by admitting the obvious about bloggers.

Who knows more about the software, blogger or journalist?

Professional journalists are pretty detached from the real world. That's clear from reading their generalized high-level writings. Who really cares about that? Who cares about CAD from such a concept-only level? It's like inquiring into the physics of a hammer, which I'm sure is a valid, if completely pointless thing to do.

The thing that annoys me most about pro writers is that all of the product reviews are positive. I know Joel Orr is highly respected, but read this: http://machinedesign.com/ContentItem/68359/HowwasthatmodelbuiltSoftwaretellsall.aspx

Compare that with this: http://dezignstuff.com/blog/2007/02/27/solidmap/

Obviously I don't make money from advertising. Anyway, the market has spoken. I have heard that these guys are out of business. Obviously Joel's information is presented better, but my content is more to the point.

Who knows more about the industry?

Honestly, who cares about "the industry"? It's an academic issue really. The only thing that matters is the product, unless you're an investor.

Should bloggers be considered press?

The word "press" is a meaningless anachronism in this age that sees fewer and fewer actual hardcopy trade periodicals, but the goal of the "press" is to have an established outlet for data. Bloggers certainly are that, although most of us are independent of financial ties, which makes us impossible to control. That is a good thing for CAD consumers who just want information, but obviously a bad thing for the corporate entity that is looking to send a specific message, predigested and spoon fed to a specific audience. Use a paid journalist for that.

Does the press look down on bloggers?

http://3dcadnews.blog.com/2591413/

You tell me. Some of them are eager to look like one of us, but it's the same old stuff packaged in the Emporer's New Clothes. Professional journalists using blogs to put down bloggers.

Do bloggers look down on the press?

After comparing us to less evolved life forms, well, yes. They don't have much to say, but they have a colorful way of saying it. Also they don't personally care much about the topics, it's just a job, so they don't inject real opinions, or make the topic seem interesting. Some of these folks should just retire.


Who does better in quality?

How do you measure quality? Blogs vary in quality a lot. Both between blogs and within a single blog. We are not driven by money, and sometimes we talk about fishing. You know, like normal people. One thing I can tell you is that I trust blogs far more than the pro CAD press. I think the pro CAD press misses the point more often than not. If the pro CAD press were doing a great job, there would not be such an appetite for blogs.

Quantity?

Again, this varies. Some bloggers are off topic more than on. Some journalists are irrelevant more than not.

Timeliness?

Bloggers by far provide information almost immediately after an event. No contest.

Insight?

Again, this varies a lot. Many bloggers don't aim to provide insight, only raw information. Real press is more likely to try, but may tend to the irrelevant.

What is the role of blogger and journalist in the future?

There will always be formal ways of communicating structured data digested and spoon fed from corporations. I believe this is already what real journalists provide. Blogs will continue to grow in relevance, and will start to become diluted when they start whoring their services. Corporations will always seek to corrupt pure sources of information, and paying bloggers will do that. I believe the future of blogging is the same as the present of the internet compared to the past. The internet went from a network of independent academics to amateur hobbyists, to just another great big over-commercialized strip mall. Blogging will also follow this pattern.

Thanks for raising the questions!

Matt Lombard
http://dezignstuff.com/blog/

Anthony Frausto-Robledo

Blogging is just another form of journalism, a category of journalistic communication. Why pit blogger vs journalist in terms of who knows better, writes faster or gets to eat the same stupid muffins in the press room?

If a blogger states their writing mission or what they are writing for or about, and aims truly to serve those ends with consistently, they are providing a public good. Journalists, in the traditional sense, these days, are far from being in a position to look down their noses at bloggers. It is the breach in ethics in journalism worldwide that has partly necesitated the realities of blogging in the first place.

The more probing question is, if blogging is not entirely the "white blood cells" of contemporary journalism, then why is that? Would bloggers be seen as more ethetical if they didn't accept advertising and endorsements of any kind? Is there really any difference if they both make money by selling banner ads?

R.Paul Waddington

Roopinder, It will be interesting to see how you write up these topics and to see how the argument develops.

I will start by saying the relationship between “traditional press” and bloggers is and will be in part be based and whether one or the other see’s the other as a threat or as a source of information. I would argue there is room for both and, importantly both have much to contribute to the others functions and goals.

I will also say, from personal experience, many “main stream” newspapers, one in particular here is Australia that is into its sixth generation of family, were not initially created by “professional journalists”. Many were started as a result of a desire to provide a wider audience details of the goings on in a particular community or as a result of the need to press a particular point of view to effect a required change in a community: they were ‘bloggers’ without journalistic training; community people with a wide variety of backgrounds using pen, ink, lead and paper and some became newspapers and publishing houses; they became the main stream. They also earned the ear and attention of others within their sphere that may have otherwise never paid any attention to them and would not have given them “face time”, as you put it, if it were not for their perceived or real influence. Their reporting defined their importance, not whether they were pro journos or not.

Cadalyst, the CAD publication, is another example of a similar process; how many contributors to the early publications were “professional journalists”?

Closer to home: my situation and my efforts to focus CAD software users and the wider community on the contents and effects of EULA, well know by some, highlights both a strength of blogging and a fault in the ‘traditional press’. You have published links to my blog postings and I appreciate this effort, but in the main CAD commentators cannot be drawn into commenting on and or highlighting this issue. The ‘traditional press’ in its many writings relating to CAD management and CAD software use has never concentrated on the most important part of software ‘ownership’; the responsibilities of both the licensees and licensors and the mine-field a EULA can define and create.

The reasons why ‘traditional commentators and press’ leave this testy subject alone will be as varied as the publications and the individuals themselves; but the end result is a very important management and society issue is all but ignored by the ‘traditional press’.

Our ability to communicate as we do is both a blessing and a curse: the ability to ‘blog’ allows me to pass on what I have and continue to discover about the dangers of the changing face of EULAs to an audience much wider than my customer base and I can do so without the concerns that influence the “traditional press’s” choice of what to publish and what not too. I can probe, dig and publish based on fact not revenue or fear of retribution and criticism.

Blogging may well become a very important component of a societies conscience.

R. Paul Waddington.

Beth Powell

I find this interesting as well and will be following your upcoming information.

I was involved as a journalist during high school and college and remember the prestige that it brought.

I entered the blogging world without any expectations and have been frankly surprised at the following and the level of prestige at an event such as AU. I was not prepared for my blog to have a life of its own.

I would not consider myself among the same level of journalist, but would also not be surprised to learn that others do.

With so many types of media today, I think there is a blur with no distinct lines separating them.

Beth

MistressOfTheDorkness

I like to think we're beginning to be taken more seriously. I've been published in a variety of media myself, and while I might get more respect on all fronts for the books and magazines, I certainly get more recognition from a wider audience from blogging.

I think it's a valid form of media now. Just look at the hundreds of bloggers out there in our industry alone.

The best part of blogging for me is that I can write about the products I want to write about. There may only be a dozen people reading it, but, where else are they going to find it? With other publications I'm sort stuck writing about AutoCAD or whatever has a wider appeal.

Do I think bloggers should be treated the same as traditional journalists?

Oh, yes.

Their opinions and viewpoints and experiences are just as valid as those of the seasoned journalist, and they will be shared with and influence the opinions of others, just like a 'real' journalist and don't have some of the restrictions they're bound by. I don't have space restraints or publishing times. I can write 10 times a month instead of just once.

Blogging is just another way to disseminate information, an easy one. (that's not to say some bloggers shouldn't think about hiring proofreaders to polish up their delivery and enhance their professional voice)

dswavely

Your discoveries and resulting comments will indeed be interesting. As readers, we have always needed to be aware of the source's origins and potential leanings. As writers, it is also important to be aware of the reader's perceptions and expectations.

With blogging playing an increasing role in so many parts of our online experience, it is valuable for all of us to pay attention to the answers to the questions that you have planned.

Christian Barrett

I think this is one of the most interesting topics that I have run across recently, and I can't wait to see where it goes.
I myself was discouraged with the process of writing for someone else, the deadlines and the incorrect editing of my columns at times, as well as an online course that I wrote.
I have been wondering if blogging would be a better route to share my knowledge with others, on my own schedule and free from editing by others. I could choose the the topics I wanted to cover the most, without the worry of what will the editor think.

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