Jakob Nielsen tosses gasoline on the flames of the blogosphere by claiming blog posting dilutes an arbitrary measure of “expertise”. A thousand blog monkeys were deeply hurt.
Oh Jacob Nielsen, you had to know upon writing “Write Articles, Not Blog Postings” the ire and furor it would stir up…. well, since he likely only reads articles by experts, perhaps not.
I first came across reference of the articles form some of the smackbacks in my RSS feeds, and in a reading of hiss article, he actually articulates and demonstrates his point rather clearly.
His argument- if you are that “expert” in your field of 1000 peers, in the 99% percentile, because blog posts can vary in quality, even among such shining, pristine experts, that sometimes a 14 year old kid in Korea will out write you sometime in the blogosphere. Horrors! So what one ought to do, according to the Book of Jakob, is to carefully horde, hone your expertise (so you can sell services to the 99% beneath your feet) and release it in slowly crafted perfect packages of articles.
This struck a chord in my, something I intended to get at somewhat in my Being There presentation, of questioning this old skool notion of expertise, as being quantifiable, and something embodied in a few high priests. Or, it is a myth of perfection, of purity, of a notion that is is Bad to Be Wrong (well, bad for the wallet). Is this the future or the past? Is that what the world needs, are experts of purity?
In great attempts, it is glorious event to fail.
— Cassius Longinus
Or, put it another way, would Einsten have ever blogged?
So what is expertise according to Jakob?
We can measure expertise as some combination of intelligence, education, experience, correct methodology, professionalism (say, avoiding profanities and politics), and willingness to be frank. The exact metric doesn’t matter here; let’s just assume there’s a way to quantify how good people are within their field.
Oh, that is definitely quantifiable, yep.
Going past that rather large assumption, there is another one unsaid in his article (which reads like a blog post, IMHO) – that the sole reason for an expert’s activities are to further and advance his/her standing for financial gains. That is, the effort is meant to propel one’s business stature ahead, a game we are not all involved in by a large shot.
So in a way, it comes off as dismissive of the entire aspect of the blogosphere as endless “monkey” chattering, and I seriously, seriously doubt you will find http://twitter.com/jakobniesen. It runs 100% counter to mine own experiences in my field, that by engaging in a stew where there is a wide mixture of “quality” and value among blog posts, wiki sites, social software exchanges, that I learn more about my field in a timely fashion, from me network of RSS feeds, twitterphiles, than any set of “expert articles”. Through my own monkey channels, I have greatly expanded my network of colleagues farther and wider than I would have through other channels.
I don’t really question the soundness of Jakob’s arguments, which if one could generalize, might be a call for more thorough and well thought our blog postings (and I could easily roll off a list of them that are more expert, more quality than even his).
But what I really find itching my hindside is this expectation of pure and perfect experts, the high priests who are never wrong. It sets some unrealistic goals and speaks to a world of cloistered, pure information, rather than a rich sea of simmering stew.
For me, I’ll take the monkeys, Any day. Write blog postings and articles (well I often decide what articles are worth reading from other people’s blog postings).
The post "Expertise, Idiocy, Monkeys: Write Blog Postings and Articles" was originally squeezed out of the bottom of an old rusted tube of toothpaste at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2007/07/expertise-monkeys/) on July 11, 2007.