Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Monday, July 28, 2003

  Exploring Punditry

There are pundits out there who take a theme, run with it, hype it for a few weeks, beat it to death, and the next month, manage to forget about how wrong they were. I'm told, if you do it well, it can be a high-paying gig. The newsletter biz is a classic example. Hype, Hype, Hype - forget, forget, forget - Hype Hype Hype - forget, forget, forget - every month, like clockwork. Readers eat it up. Or, at least they used to. The web has a history now, it's possible to peer into someone's published past in the face of their present, and judge them by their work. Do normal people do that? I don't know. I do...

Now - I'm no stranger to the newsletter biz, I once spent quite a few months enabling a newsletter publisher called Dick Davis Publishing to move their newsletters to the web. We pioneered internet chat between publishers, but no-one cared. Pdf after pdf came out of the publishing department... There was no historical viewpoint between quarters or years.... because, at least in part, there was no easy way to correllate last year's issue with this year's. PDF files don't lend themselves to that, and it wasn't in the publication's percieved self interest to analyze itself like this.

As the internet exploded, and interactive services like Quote.com and finance.yahoo.com took off, the demographic for the financial newsletter slid rapidly up the geriatric investor scale. I became certain that the paper newsletter, converted to read-only pdf, was dead, dead, dead. I left for California soon afterwards.

Recently I've been thinking and talking and googling about where Moore's Law intersected with Metcalfe's law (also Gene's law, POGE, Michael's Law... there's a few other trends that don't have "laws" associated with them that I'm working with, too, more later). I discovered Gilder had been exploring moore's law before me... damnit. With a pdf file. No interactivity: no chat, no blog, no means to discuss, no way to move the viewpoint forward or backward in time, no means to transclude the charts for further discussion... (note, I used to read Gilder a lot, I'm NOT damning Gilder here, just the interactivity). Doing that web search also pointed me to a nicely webatized version of Nicholas Negroponte's Unleashing the Killer App, which I spent an enjoyable hour re-reading.

I'm uncomfortable with punditry myself, I'm full of questions, mistakes, and doubts, and I know the web has a history. However... I like to think aloud and I'm not afraid of being wrong, or sounding stupid. I'd like to be interesting - I'd like to be funny - I'd like to be readable - and I'd like to be right - but I'll settle for one of the four in a blog entry. Maybe someday I'll be posting "finished" pieces on what, exactly, I think about what the future holds for everyone, but here, for now - with no word limit - no editor - I can say what I want - and live with it, later. I'm convinced, that somewhere in my half-formed thoughts is an idea or two that will resonate with others.

I'm only under one NDA now, and I didn't learn anything from that encounter. I keep meeting with potential employers/clients, all in search of "secret sauce". I know I have a few ingredients for that. I'm keeping the pot simmering.

I keep thinking if I finish writing up what I thought I understood 10 years ago maybe I'll get a handle on what the next 10 will look like - and get a jump start on it. I have a lot of writing ahead of me this year. Words fail me often when I talk about the future, I'm forced to resort to graphs. Moore later.

 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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