Those who haven't already seen it should immediately hit this link for what I think is the best rundown of how the Internet is polluting and distorting our information cycle. It was written by tech writer Ed Bott on ZDNet two days ago. It chronicles the way that the web takes a bogus "report" cooked up by an irresponsible organization and shoots it out all over the place. The poor company under this kind of fire can do nothing but try to put out the conflagration with their corporate squirt gun. Bott writes:
I've spent the better part of the last 48 hours looking into the colossal fiasco that is the "Black Screen of Death" story. It's a near-perfect case study in how Internet-driven tech journalism rewards sloppy reporting and how the echo chamber devalues getting the story right.
The company in question here is Microsoft, which was victimized by a story that said Windows was suffering from a dreaded Black Screen bug. There was no truth to it. But the story went viral, which in this day and age is easy. Everybody is an aggregator. Nobody checks facts. Nobody feels any responsibility for bulls**t stuff they help spread out there. Hey! They're just passing along the viral goodies!
It's like a sneeze on an airplane. Everybody gets sick. Nobody's to blame.
But seriously. If you haven't read the post, read it here. And keep it in mind the next time you see something on the Internet, anywhere on the Internet. At its best aggregation is entertaining. Most of the time? It's gossip. And it's pretty much where the state of the art is going in tech, politics and this week, sports. Hell, it's not just going there. It's arrived. Have you heard the new stuff about Tiger?