Friday, January 11, 2013

Being an information medium is a shield against scrutiny

If you try to search in a search engine for information about Google the corporation, about Eric Schmidt etc., it's likely that some of your results will have to do with Google the idea or Google the tool. If you try to search a search engine for information about Reid Hoffman and Linkedin, the company, you will come back with a bunch of profiles that use Linkedin the conduit. If you want to know about Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams and whoever else works at Twitter, the physical building, and you try to find information about their belief systems and biases by searching 'Twitter', you're going to be inundated by information that was disseminated over Twitter, the medium. A second confound is that once you do find things about Silicon Valley household words that takes them as office parks and workplaces and places where banal corporate culture happens, the biggest source of information is the tech hagiography press. So you're finally reading about Jack Dorsey, but the story is written by someone who fawns over him. A third confound is that if you aren't looking in the tech press in particular, there is coverage of the big names as corporations and as office buildings in the right-wing business press, like Forbes, Fortune, Inc., Wall Street Journal. A fourth confound is that if you aren't looking in the tech press or the business press, you can find coverage in the mainstream press - USA Today, New York Times, CNN - but the writers, who are probably used to contextualizing Google, Facebook and Twitter as conduits, are often credulous and easily snowed by whatever the tech companies tell them about their goals and purposes. Exceptions: The Register, Jane Hamsher's new thing, Carl Franzen, Valleywag.... with a lot of caveats for most of those.