Blogging the Fire

No matter how high-minded a tech site’s philosophy may be, we all have to cover big gizmo launches. Everybody’s beat ties into the latest and greatest hardware somehow. Plus, on a big launch day, it’s where all the eyeballs are.

Today’s Kindle launch was one I’ve been anticipating. My first post ever was about it. It was a test of my skills before ReadWriteWeb even hired me, and they sprung it on me. I had no choice but to drop everything and write it. Granted, I was just working off of stuff the Wall Street Journal reported, but I had access to a wealth of past RWW articles to add context, and I did. The post wasn’t bad. As it turned out today, it was right about some stuff.

Of course, it was also dead-ass wrong about the main announcement, other than the fact that there was a tablet. The WSJ’s sources made it sound like it was separate from the Kindle line and that it was going to be iPad-sized. Of course, Amazon could have changed their mind about some of that since July, but probably not the size of the tablet.

Photo: The Guardian

When the scoops started coming in this month, they were breathless and bold, and they didn’t mention the fact that the first round of rumors was completely different. It’s like the WSJ was forgiven for reporting info that was totally wrong. The one thing that the WSJ was right about was the fleet of other Kindles that were announced, but recent scoops about the Kindle Fire tablet totally forgot about those.

Moreover, as my temporary hero Real Dan Lyons points out, even that scoop was wrong about the name, the price, and other crucial details. That didn’t stop Lemons from congratulating himself on being right, though. And that was a good post, too. I think he’s dead on about the implications. He’s also maybe somewhat justified in sniping back at Lyons for not going out and getting the scoop like he did. But where is the humility? What is soooo terrible about admitting when we’re wrong about the Internet?

Not to toot RWW’s horn, but my colleague Marshall Kirkpatrick laughed at himself for being wrong recently, and it was a great post! Tech bloggers are just normal people, and we’re hardly cool enough to be so haughty when we’re right about something, let alone when we’re wrong.

Read-all-about-it scoops are awesome, even when they’re only about computers. But what’s awesome about them is the excitement they generate about the future we’re living in. That’s what’s awesome about tech news in general. It’s not the same as journalism about, you know, real things. We’re not doing a civic duty here. We are storytellers about the future. We should all be enjoying ourselves and thanking our lucky stars that we live in a world that supports enough amazing technological innovation that a few of us can make a living explaining what it means.

But when it comes to the day of the launch, and we’re all racing against each other writing the exact same blog posts (at varying levels of quality), are we using our energy wisely? Since we’re all so busy making up possible scenarios for months beforehand, how much good are we doing by banging out two blog posts before we brush our teeth in the morning because Amazon decided to launch on the East Coast?

Just think of all calories and gigabytes and gallons of coffee wasted writing the same sentences in hundreds of different ways today. Competition is healthy, but only as long as there’s a healthy goal. The goal is to inform readers, right? Not to beat each other. Right??

But I think we can all agree that Bloomberg are TOTAL DICKS for posting before the thing even started. Am I right? ;)