& & & ! !

Have run into several pseudo-debates today about the relative benefits of websites and e-mail. The answer is both.
Mitch Ratcliffe cites an argument between Mark Hurst, who argues that email is better than weblogs, and John Robb over at Userland who argues in favor of weblogs.
Meanwhile, John Robb cites Ray Ozzie, who argues in an Infoworld interview that people ignore collaboration tools and portals because they aren’t as “natural” as phone, fax, and e-mail.
“Natural” has nothing to do with it. Right tool for the job has everything to do with it.
When you’re trying to reach another human immediately, you phone, fax, email (or IM). Why waste time browsing a web site when you just want to talk to Ed?
But when you want to talk to a person whom you haven’t spoken in a while, you probably look up their website first. You don’t call Ed and ask, “Ed, are you still working as Director of the Do-Gooders Coalition?” You look up the Do-Gooders’ coalition website first, and when you talk to Ed, you congratulate him on the success of their recent fundraiser.
Ratcliffe is respectful about Hurst’s advocacy of push email vs. pull websites but with all due respect, I think the point is ridiculous. Email is wonderful AND you don’t want all of the information in the universe piling up in your email box! Some things are important enough to deserve regular attention, and you want to receive them by email. Other things are interesting, but can wait till you go fetch them.
The tools work best together.

  • Email can be used for discussion and for immediate call to action.
  • Weblogs are good for keeping in touch on a daily basis
  • Websites can be used to support research and follow-up collaboration.
  • Both. And.

    Who’s paying the bills?

    There’s an ongoing weblog conversation about whether bloggers need to disclose who’s paying the bills when they express an opinion on a subject, just like other journalists, pundits, consultants, and miscellaneous public figures.
    The debate was sparked by Mobius, a PR event to tout Microsoft’s latest PDA technology. Recognizing that bloggers influence opinion, Microsoft invited bloggers to the event.
    As I wrote in correspondence to Mitch Ratcliffe, who’s been ranting on the topic lately, “Of course bloggers are subject to influence by whoever’s paying the bills!! Anyone who thinks for a moment should realize it– marketers have been co-opting grass roots movements for decades. What product was John Lennon’s Imagine used to shill again? Remember the Pepsi Generation? Who is sponsoring the latest Extreme sports competition?
    For a historical perspective on the co-option of grassroots movements by marketers, take a look at Commodify Your Dissent!
    Disclosure: I’ve seen and heard multiple reviews, articles and interviews by and about the Baffler crowd, but I haven’t read the whole book.

    Fake people

    Microsoft is getting a lot of well-deserved mockery for its astroturf ad campaign about a person who switched from Mac to Windows. Unfortunately, the woman in the phony testimonial looked suspiciously like a certain PhotoDisk model.
    For some reason, web hosting services seem to be especially drawn to the use of fake people in their marketing, this when people don’t use the najlepszy hosting agencies. I was looking for a new host for alevin.com, and noticed that many hosting services seem to advertise their discount plans with pictures of cheesy, fake-looking people . Meanwhile, there is no information to be found about any real managers or tech-support humans at the company.
    Why does anyone think people are fooled by this? Whenever I see pictures of fake people, I imagine surly, disheveled employees in a basement somewhere, surrounded by cigarette butts in cups of day-old coffee scum.
    By the way, I signed up with Cornerhost , which has the advantage of being run by a real person.