The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Steve Rubel put the no-blog news diet to the test yesterday.

Similar to the test Rubel took to gauge the effect of his own all-blog media diet (that test was given, and written about, by Poynter's Steve Outing), my quiz consisted of a cross-section of notable news items that had particular resonance in the blogosphere last week.

So, without further ado, here are the questions, my replies, and Rubel's grades, all done via back-and-forth emails:
1. Fast Company started a spectacularly clueless policy on linking, in which they expect people who want to link to them to do what?
--->MY ANSWER: I know I saw some mention of this at one point, but I never did read through. Don't know.
--->STEVE: They need to fax them a request

2. Computer pioneer Bob Bremer died last week. What's his claim to fame?
--->MY ANSWER: He was the creator of the ASCII code.
--->STEVE: Correct

3. What site is holding a contest to create the "sexiest" one-minute video starring John Ashcroft?
--->MY ANSWER: I'm guessing; again, I recall seeing something on this, but didn't read through.
--->STEVE: Incorrect. It was Nerve

4. What CNN commentator said he spends every morning reading Weblogs?
--->MY ANSWER: Don't know. Don't recall even coming across this one.
--->STEVE: Incorrect. Jeff Greenfield

5. President Bush broke a new online campaign ad last week that some say compared John Kerry to Hitler. What did the Kerry team do in response?
--->MY ANSWER: I believe they had to repeat their disassociation with's original use of a Hitler-Bush ad a few months ago, which inspired this ad from the Bush campaign...
--->STEVE: Correct

6. A blogger who struggled to get his questions answered from one particular online company's PR team received a lot of buzz this week. What company was involved?
--->MY ANSWER: I believe it was NetFlix.
--->STEVE: Correct

7. What board did Dave Winer resign from?
--->MY ANSWER: Userland (am I correct in that being the current name of the company, and not Radio Userland?)
--->STEVE: Incorrect. The RSS Advisory Board

8. What did CERT recommend all Internet users do last week?
--->MY ANSWER: In response to the discovery of malicious hijacking code in several website that use Microsoft's IIS, CERT recommended using any browser other than Internet Explorer, which is vulnerable to this hijack attempt.
--->STEVE: Correct

9. What uses more sick days than US workers?
--->MY ANSWER: Office PCs.
--->STEVE: Correct

10. A blog broke the news last week that about a controversial meeting between a bipartisan group of Congressmen and a certain billionaire. Who was that billionaire?
--->MY ANSWER: I believe it was the Reverend Sun Moon (that may not be his full name; owner of United Press International and the Washington Times, among much else).
--->STEVE: Correct
So that makes 6 out of 10 right. Lo and behold, Rubel wound up with 12 out of 20 right on his. Thus, we each scored a 60 percent on our tests. Dead heat.

What does this say about blogs and what they do for the media consumer? I can't say for sure. It's clear that, at this stage in the evolution of blogs (and, really, of all online media), they don't provide the whole media story; but it doesn't seem that mainstream media does either, at least not with regularity. Is the only way of getting the entire picture, at least for some areas, a diet of both news and blogs? Taking the opposite view, is the measure of blogosphere buzz/popularity a reliable enough indicator of newsworthiness (any moreso than this applies to news sites and offline news)? Obviously, this raises more questions than answers for me.

Regarding the questions themselves: Question No. 5 threw me a bit. I wasn't sure that the Kerry campaign's canned response of disavowal actually qualified as a real countermove, and was wondering if I hadn't missed something. I guess I did read correctly what Steve was after. I'm kicking myself about missing No. 7; I think I link Winer and Userland so much that I didn't really think it through before answering. Similarly, I should have mulled a bit more on No. 1, as I instantly recalled news on Fast Company and hyperlinking.

All in all, a worthy experiment.