Saturday, June 11, 2005

'Published' just doesn't mean what it used to

Over at Corante, Clay Shirky is talking about the "downside of the mass amateurization of pubishing." Namely, the ease with which an amateur publisher can generate buzz. Here's an excerpt:

This is the downside of the mass amateurization of publishing. Since the threshold for exclusion from the Wikipedia is so low, there is almost no value in thinking “Hey, it’s got a Wikipedia article — must be serious.” We have the sense-memory of that way of thinking from the days where it cost money to publish something, and this class of reputation hack relies on that memory to seed the network with highly targeted ads.

I can't say I agree with Shirky's view that this type of thing is the result of the Internet. As usual, the Internet is just magnifying an existing phenomenon. Information consumers are subjected to this kind of astroturfing in many forms of media.

However, this is an important issue to keep bringing up, because many information consumers are still far too gullible (or universally skeptical, which amounts to the same thing.)