Nov 11, 2008

The cult of buzz*

Ron Rosenbaum has had enough of Jeff Jarvis the grave dancing new media consultant. It's about time, in my humble opinion. I commend anyone interested in the future of newspapers, and news gathering, to read the entire article. Here's a lengthy passage to tide you over:

But Jarvis doesn't seem to recognize distinctions of value. Or to have heard of Gresham's law. (Trash drives out value.) Listen to his blog reaction to the recent bailout/economic meltdown:

Why wasn't the government better at listening to the market? Did it ever ask what it should do? That's not the way government thinks, but it's the way it should learn to think.

Wait, did I get that right? The government should have "listened to the market," the same market that created this debacle and came close to destroying the economy? It's an example of his blind allegiance to the wisdom of the consumer, to quantity over quality and expertise. Everything else is elitism. He's the Sarah Palin of gurus. The crowd is always right.

But what makes him wined, dined, and comped by Dubai to fly to self-proclaimed summits all over the world? It's not just that corporations are dumb enough to waste what's left of stockholders' money to pay for someone to tell them to "listen to the market." No, it's Jarvis' pretensions to guru-hood, his gnomic "laws" and pronouncements. Firing people on the writing side because of the incompetence of the business side is a long tradition in the media business, and Jarvis gives management a New Age fig leaf with which to shift the blame from their own incompetence.

He offers chestnuts like, "The link changes everything," "Stuff sucks" ("Nobody wants to be in the business of stuff anymore. … Google's economy is more appealing"), "Atoms are a drag," and—yes, his contribution to the "X is the new Y" genre—"Small is the new big."

Yeah, down with stuff! Let them eat fake. Sleep in buildings not made with atoms. Everyone should be a new-media consultant, and then we won't need any media at all.

*UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis responds to Rosenbaum - make sure to read through the comments. Also, Simon Owens amplifies on Rosenbaum's column - again, read the comments, where Jarvis makes a surprise appearance.

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