Whuffie, Doc Searls, and Worthless Blogging

Trash SignLet’s start with a quote from Doc Searls.

Several years ago I was talking with Tim O’Reilly about the discomfort we both felt about treating information as a commodity. It seemed to us that information was something more, and quite different, than the communicable form of knowledge. It was not a commodity, exactly, and was insulted by the generality we call “content”.

Information, we observed, is derived from the verb inform, which is related to the verb form. To inform is not to “deliver information”, but rather to form the other party. If you tell me something I didn’t know before, I am changed by that. If I believe you, and value what you say, I have granted you authority. Meaning, I have given you the right to author what I know. Therefore, we are all authors of each other. This is a profoundly human condition in any case, but it is an especially important aspect of the open source value system. By forming each other, as we also form useful software, we are making the world. Not merely changing it.

These are the words that explain why I stopped aggregating content from other people’s blogs a while back. The service sounded great for my own uses. But, it serves no purpose when I have a desktop or online RSS reader.

Blogging is worthless unless you/I can “form the other party.” Doc’s words, quoted on this post, I hope, while without having value in itself, forms you in your blogging, writing, and other “informing” careers. I hope that we can stop pushing any and all information and raise our signal to noise ratio. Maybe then people will stop doubting the “blogosphere’s” value and give it some credit and we can get on with our lives of doing/making cool stuff (rather than just talking about it).

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

2 Comments on "Whuffie, Doc Searls, and Worthless Blogging"

  1. Steven says:

    Words have more than one meaning. In this case, the word Inform means to “impart information to another” as well as “To give form or character to.” The latter meaning is the meaning you are referring to, kinda.

    Blogging on the other hand has to do almost wholly with the first meaning: Imparting information.

    As for the quality of information… what is interesting to you may be useless to another.

    I am not completely in agreement with Doc Searls.

  2. nate says:

    But does blogging just have to impart information? I don’t think that’s really all it should be. I think wikis do a better job of imparting information since they at least inherently make you attempt some kind of objectivity.

    I’ll agree with ya on the quality of information one. Good point.

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