Scoble vs. Nielsen
By user12601629 on Jul 12, 2007
There is some mudslinging going on between two internet personalities: Jakob Nielsen and Robert Scoble. Nielsen is a long-time guru on usability and Scoble became famous as Microsoft's voice in the blogosphere before going indepedent (and he now hosts my favorite video blog). BTW, here's a link to a video interview Scoble did with Jonathan a few months back.
The whole things started when Nielson posted in his "newsletter" (he doesn't call it a blog although it very nearly is) an article bashing blogs. Scoble fired back implying that Nielsen is a loser and a dinosaur. It's been kind of fun to watch, but there is a lot to analyze in the discussion. Nielsen summarizes his own post with the following:
To demonstrate world-class expertise, avoid quickly written, shallow
postings. Instead, invest your time in thorough, value-added content
that attracts paying customers.
Who can argue with that? Well, Scoble got fired up because his own blog is often full of short, pithy comments and simple pointers to other interesting things on the net (with less analysis). The interesting thing is that both of these guys are fairly famous (as nerds go) and have large readerships. Who's right? Both, and neither. Here's what I think is missing from the conversation.
Nielsen does not understand that he is publishing a blog. The word Blog started as a short hand for Personal Web Log. It's was a set of web pages written in a personal, first person style where the author frequently posted. Nielsen started doing this in the mid-nineties and thus was WAY AHEAD of the curve (much to his credit). Whether postings are in-depth articles or pithy links isn't central to the concept of a blog. What Nielsen is missing in his "blog" are some of the technological wrappings that would make him a real member of the blogosphere: RSS and Comments.
Nielsen's subscription mechanism is based on an archaic email list, and there is no place to leave him feedback or discuss his posts. If he added those, he'd be a true blogger and a really good one.
For Scoble's part, he's clearly being defensive, but I think he sees that Nielsen is ignoring a key part of what makes blogging blogging. It's about conversation. Nielsen is being a pundit and isn't interested in what the rest of the world has to say. Scoble interacts with his audience, understands them in real time and invites them into his community. In my opinion, that's what's central to this discussion. It's not just about the quality of the posting (and Nielsen presents some very nice guidelines for good blogging -- even if he won't call it that!) it's about the quality of the discussion and the interaction with the community.