Having spent several days amounting to weeks in various conferences in September around the world, and then reading about them on the web I realize that the bloggers and "news" sites are all frustrated wannabe spies and code breakers. I come to this conclusion because I read things about events I attended, and sometimes even know a little about, and it doesn't match up with what I'm reading-obviously I missed something.
Probably from seeing too many James Bond movies, or actually reading books like Enigma, the people behind your web browser who are doing the footwork, getting the reconnaissance, digging up the Intel, connecting the dots, drinking and dinning with the sources, gluing together shredded paper, and when called for doing dumpster diving, are bringing you the decoded messages, innuendo, and interpretations of the movements, slips of tongue, and wink-winks of the industry movers an shakers, encased of course with their special knowledge, insight, and understanding of what it all means.
This is the power of the web, the power of crowds. We have gone from a handful of reporters, who actually know where a noun and verb belong in a sentence to the equivalent of on-the scene TV reporting, without the cute blonde and video of the fire two blocks away. The reporting is about as accurate and every bit as sensational. Who cares what the facts are, this stuff is exciting, and even more so for those quick-thumbed bloggers who are streaming it to you in real time-it's just like being there, only better. Better because they (the thumbers) are doing the hard work, interpreting it for us. Not only that, some of them are also doing translations for us, from foreign languages.
And our horde of news gathers and (under paid) industrial espionage agents never rest. They drink coffee with the right people in the morning, lean back in their chairs at lunch so they can pick up the conversation from the table behind them, linger in men's rooms listening to toilet tidbits, and drink in the evening till the wee hours in relentless pursuit of the secrete, the hidden lie, and the leaked suggestion.
They do not go unsung or under appreciated. If one of them gets a lead on something and is quick to post it, it gets echoed across the world on various websites, sometimes even with attribution.
Alas, as Andy Warhol said, everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame, and that is truer than ever in blogtime. But they don't rest on their laurels, they don't rest period. Their reward is to look good, to look smart and clever to their peers, and the people they expose. They long to be whispered about as they walk through a hall, or into a restaurant.
Their other reward is to be interviewed by the press. Being the one to figure something out, or interpret a remark, and then to have that published by the legitimate press (legitimate in this sense means someone is willing to actually pay money for the news that is being written, published, and maybe printed.) Some of the super sleuths we are told (from a reliable source) actually keep scrap books of their quoted statements-no doubt planning for the day when they will sit on the porch with their grand kids and show them how they uncovered a major secret that changed the entire industry, if not the free world.
So we salute the spies, sleuths, and soothsayers and their relentless effort to uncover the truth, the secrets, and implications (and forgive them their grammatical and spelling errors). As long as they are there, and the movers and shakers (and their PR minions) know they are there, the leaders, the big shots, and the spin masters will think twice before they try to feed us the company Kool-Aid.
I'm actually thinking of creating a program, "Take a blogger to lunch," to recognize and reward these unsung and under paid heroes.