Mobbing the echo chamber

by Shane Perris on Wednesday, 12 March, 2008

in opinions

Two issues dominated the tech blogosphere this week:

  1. Jason Calacanis dared to suggest that people working for a startup might need a different work ethic to someone punching in 9-5; and
  2. Business journalist Sarah Lacy apparently bombed an interview with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, at the South by Southwest (SxSW) conference (remember when SxSW used to be about the music, man? It’s changed, dude. It’s changed).  The meltdown was fuelled by an angry TwitMob feeding its dissatisfaction to the broader tech community, 140 bilious characters at a time.

Both of these issues took on a life of their own and the dominated the space despite the fact that they are of limited interest and aren’t really that important in the scheme of things anyway.

The conversation around Calacanis’ post can be summed up as:

Jason sucks

I disagree

He’s a prick

Well I think Jason’s right

Well I think he’s just a prison warden, nyer nyer nyer

And I think he’s got it backwards, too

Um, I actually work for Jason. Can I say something now?

… and so on.  It’s hardly world-changing stuff, but I bet a whole heap more people have heard of Mahalo now! (personally, I think Jason sounds like my type of boss – free coffee so I don’t have to leave my desk? Sure thing. Paid for lunch so I don’t have to go outside and get it or brown bag it? Just sign here and initial there? Comfortable chairs, two monitors and a laptop for work at home? Damn straight! All this and I’m a family man.  Try working 9 to 5 while constrained by laws governing public administration and spending of tax dollars and then tell me you wouldn’t work for Jason in a heartbeat …)

As for the apparent ‘crash and burn’ of Sarah Lacy, I feel like I was the only one who thought “Sarah who?” before proceeding to not care that an interviewer misjudged her subject and crowd and had an off night. The only newsworthy aspect of the whole thing is that it was at a tech conference and therefore plenty of people were pumping up opinions live on Twitter (wisdom of the crowds or rampaging mob? You decide.)

The most startling thing for me was that in both cases it was astounding how quickly a mob will turn when the Silicon Valley/Bay Area echo chamber starts feeding upon itself at so spectacularly.  I’m somewhat saddened that from my antipodean perspective in Australia, in a week where Apple releases an iPhone SDK, a Gmail archive program turns out to be a front to scam your login details and REM streams its new album through iLike a week before its release date (I couldn’t care less but I know lots of people who do care), and this insider First World Problem dross is the best people can do.

*sigh*

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