Attack of the killer students (with blogs)

Bobbie is being attacked by killer students, using their killer logic to utterly defeat him.

Well, maybe not. Seems that bunch of j-students got some course assignment that included looking at his Multimedia 101 post and then commenting on it. These being blogs, commenting directly.

But follow the stream back to its source, and you find, oh, such open minds. Why, you can see through to the other side, they’re so open.

Thus Pigtown:

Although an ambitious endeavor, Johnson sacrifices actually covering these events well for covering them in a plethora of media. I came away feeling like I didn’t know as much about the CES as I could have if he had just stuck to one medium and gotten things straight. I understand this was a choice, at least in part, from his news agency, and in a later blog he shows the BBC doing all of this well by sending an entire team of reporters. Unfortunately, Bobbie Johnson does not appear to be the next coming of Kevin Sites.

Hey, charmed to meet you too, Mr don’t-know-a-news-agency-from-hole-in-ground. His excuse (in the comments):

My professor sent the link to the entire class and asked us to post our thoughts.

My thoughts, while mostly unprintable, might include getting the professor to read all the student blogs and consider: do you think you’re helping journalism by encouraging stream of consciousness writing? Is that what ought to be doing? Just wondering.

And what’s really interesting is how little investigative journalism is implied in any of the final projects this bunch is planning.

So at joyceman’s idea for a story:

The Men’s Basketball team here at Emerson is perfect for a multimedia, multi layered, web project. There are at least 11 different stories to tell from the players, as well as the Coach’s and now because of the gym, there is a fan angle too. For me, sports are really dynamic. Every game there is a chance for great video of the game, the fans, and after the game for some awesome sound bites.

You know what I wonder? Whether there’s any drug abuse. Any abuse of sponsorship rules (quite tight on college basketball, I think). And so on. You know, the things that one would count on from a future, oh, Kevin Sites.


  1. Come on grandad. The world is crying out for multimedia, multi-layered web projects. No-one cares about stories any more, we want layers. And media. And lots of them. Over the web. Yup.

  2. Lessons:

    1) Sticks and stones may break your bones, but critical blog comments really hurt. No idea why – perhaps something to do with the personal investment in a blog even if we don’t appreciate it. But we’ve all been there, one negative remark (even if inane) outweighs an ocean of praise.

    2) The professor in question was derlecit in not insisting that the first thing the students did was to fill in the “about” section of the blog in order to clarify the source and thus the subjective validity of the comments. Anonymous comments should be actively prevented.

    3) Bobbie said he had doubts about his efforts, but the students seem to have missed that disclaimer – maybe that suggests a need to make such disclaimers of experimentation more clear. This is perhaps even more relevant when the work appears under the imprimatur of an established media outlet like The Guardian which immediately instils expectations of quality.

  3. John, a few points. It wasn’t critical comments but downright rude ones that annoyed me. The spite in some of them insinuated (to me, anyway) that the authors thought nobody would ever read their posts, which I found quite astounding – especially given their course of study.

    Secondly, I’m not that bothered that they were semi-anonymous (it became obvious very quickly that they were students at a class from Emerson).

    Third, although I was quite clear that I’m on a video learning curve, I don’t believe the video wasn’t worth doing. Good lord, I have doubts about every single piece of work I ever do – and in retrospect I think it was perfectly serviceable for what it was (a quick bang through a hectic trade show). I’ve had plenty of good reaction. Talking about improving processes is not the same as saying the process shouldn’t have ever happened.

  4. Bobby – I was just teasing out lessons from this interesting event.

    1) Perhaps I should have said negative rather than critical (I wasn’t seeking to distinguish between rational and irrational criticism).

    2) I have to disagree – they fessed up quickly in this case, but I believe anonymous commenting allows nastiness and they should have been instructed in this “rule” of blogging etiquette.

    3) Wasn’t suggesting it wasn’t worth doing – I was playing devil’s advocate and opining that they might have assumed a higher standard than from say a youtube video and contextualised their reaction with that in mind. This is to make no comment on the actual quality of your work (which I haven’t viewed yet) – I was just trying to understand why this all happened.

  5. > “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but critical blog comments really hurt.”

    Everyone… everyone knows I was joking with the “grandad” thing, right?

  6. If nothing else this whole affair has taught me something. Bloggers appear to be tirelessly self absorbed with nothing better to do with their time than blogging about people blogging about their friends blogging. Instead of layers of multimedia we should just plunge ourselves into layers of blogging, because that is apparently more important to some.
    The reason I didn’t take this assignment very seriously is because I was forced to do this for a class I was forced to take as a pre-req for a later course. If this appears unprintable, it’s because it never appeared in print, and was never intended to be. I put zero importance on blogs,let alone mine. I came of age in the LiveJournal era, where clicking a “publish” link means telling me friends that my parents -like, totally grounded me. The only thing that’s a bigger waste of time than my blogging about someone else blogging (which I only did because I had to) is someone blogging about my blogging.
    If this appears to be bitterness to you, you’re entirely correct. I’m bitter that I’m paying nearly $35,000 (US) a year to go to college to learn and do things people are getting paid to muddle their way through at a reputable newspaper/website. I’m bitter because this – these words I’m typing write now – are part of that education. Lesson learned: Bloggers are not only self-important, but defensive. It’s best to let them rant into their own blackhole, because they’ll only drag you further into a rabbit hole that was really rather fruitless in the first palce.
    Now how do I make my wordpress blog “friends only”?

  7. @pigtown – bloggers aren’t tirelessly self-absorbed. You were commenting on something that Bobbie and the rest of the Guardian – hell, the rest of the British papers – consider an important development in how we connect with readers. For you, though, it’s a ‘class assignment’ and thus of no real consequence. Believe me, for us the consequences are very real; Bobbie’s commenting on his experience trying to create multimedia, as someone whose experience has principally been in print, is insightful for others willing to listen.

    I put zero importance on blogs,let alone mine.

    I think this is underestimating the power of the medium. Ask Michael Dell about Jeff Jarvis.

    If this appears to be bitterness to you, youíre entirely correct. Iím bitter that Iím paying nearly $35,000 (US) a year to go to college to learn and do things people are getting paid to muddle their way through at a reputable newspaper/website.

    I would say dump university, but possibly that’s bad advice. If you’re frustrated at that, go and find your own stories. Be a journalist. Find stuff out. This can be done in the time between classes, believe it or not. Film it or blog it or write it. Whatever. If you’re content just to be led by the coursework, then you’re not going to have the get-up-and-go necessary to succeed in journalism, I’d contend.

    Lesson learned: Bloggers are not only self-important, but defensive. Itís best to let them rant into their own blackhole, because theyíll only drag you further into a rabbit hole that was really rather fruitless in the first palce.

    No, people tend to re-assert what they think is true when challenged. This is the Socratic method – thesis, antithesis, synthesis. You criticise Bobbie’s observations but clearly haven’t done the research to find out about him or his media organisation: this makes the anti-thesis weak, meaning the synthesis of the arguments remains closer to the thesis than otherwise. As I said, this stuff – about the best way to create multimedia, what stories work best in which media, how long it takes – is of direct importance to people like Bobbie and me in our daily work. We’re not being purely defensive; we’re testing whether what you say has any value, because if it did we’d begin to incorporate it into our consideration of this.

    Agreed, bloggers often just echo viewpoints they like. But journalists don’t. They thrive on controversy.

    As to making your blog ‘friends only’ – if you really want to know, make the directory password-protected, for example with the HTTP AUTH or cookie system, and tell your friends the username and password required to access it. Make sure this is different from the uid/pw combo for your wp-admin pages.
    And while you do that, consider that it’s hardly the career step up to widespread dissemination of your views. But if you find others’ views uncomfortable and challenging.. you’re probably at university.

  8. *sigh*

    I think that’s your fundamental error, Pigtown: you dismiss all bloggers with the same arrogance, missing the void in your own approach. OK, some blogs are full of bloviating idiots – that’s par for the course in life as a whole. But this wasn’t a conversation between a bunch of completely uninformed people from out of nowhere; it was your peers, your teachers, and the people who might hire you in time.

    I fail to see how I’m the fool because I work for a company which allows me to do these things ON TOP of the job I get paid for (I’m not “paid to experiment” as you people have observed). That’s happening because we all know they are necessary skills, but we are unable to send an entire body of hundreds of journalists back to school and put out the news each day as well.

    So when you complain that I’ve got a job and you’re paying $35,000 to learn how to do things? It sounds like little more than sour grapes to me.

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