Keith Waterhouse, the Daily Mail, Blogging, and the vast Googling tribe of nerds [Rant]

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I don’t usually give the Daily Mail the time of day, letalone the airwaves, but when I was tipped off about the following piece of tripe from the misinformed Luddite that is Keith Waterhouse, I had to respond. In rant style. Maybe Keith is actually being incredibly ‘with it’ and doing the “nerdy blog thing” that is linkbaiting – but I doubt it.

In his ‘column’ (which to all intents and purposes is a blog, given that it’s a series of dated, opinionated, entries with invitation for comment) he makes some fairly outrageous statements about blogging, and Internet users in general. I know the Daily Mail excels at sweeping generalisations, but this is classic. In a bad way.

You can read it here (ooh look, I linked out to them, something they don’t seem to do) – you’ll need to scroll down the page – but here’s my commentary on it.

Here’s the first loony statement. Beware, there are many:

“Seasoned googlers, of whom there is already a vast tribe, are nerds, anoraks and braces-wearers of the worst sort who spend every working moment searching the infernal engine for other people’s blogs.”

OK let me pick this apart like the rabid blogger I so obviously am.

1. Seasoned googlers (careful Keith, you’ll get into trouble with that infernal engine for using that term): That pretty much covers the majority of Internet users, most of whom are NOT bloggers.
2. Nerd: “somebody who pursues academic and intellectual interests, which may result in the expense of social skills such as: interpersonal communication, fashion, hygiene and physical fitness.” I hate to do this to you, Keith, but I think you fit that description pretty well. It doesn’t, however, describe the majority of Internet or Google users.
3. Anorak: Assuming you’re using the colloquial term and not talking about the item of clothing – what’s wrong with having an obsessive personality and highly niche knowledge: it worked for Bill Gates.
4. Braces-wearers: Again, clothing or for the teeth? Well there are many high-powered businessmen that wear braces to hold their trousers up. And many teenagers who wear braces on their teeth. What is your point?
5. of the worst sort: You mean there’s a ‘best sort’? You’re losing me here Keith. Really, you are.
6. “spend every working moment searching the infernal engine for other people’s blogs” Actually, Keith, if you’d bothered to do any research you’d know that Google isn’t (yet) the best way to search for blogs. Blogsearch is OK but you should’ve had a dig at Technorati to be factually correct. Oh, hang on, sorry you work for the Daily Mail don’t you? Point taken.

What is an infernal engine? One that is irritating and tiresome? Yep, that’ll be why it has such huge market share and so many people use it. Stupid people, eh?

“They are descended from a generation of titterers, pranksters and spokespersons of the bleeding obvious who in a more primitive era used to fool around with the office photocopier, circulating allegedly humorous material (“In these days of equal rights, why is Manchester not known as Personchester”) faxed or posted to them by fellow-nerds who in turn had painfully copied the stuff from a parish magazine.”

Apart from the fact that a lot of this is drivel, interspersed with a phrase that was only funny when John Cleese said it, I’m not sure if we’re talking about people who use Google (ie nearly everyone) or bloggers. Either way, it’s offensive in so many ways.

“The world is now their oyster – or their lobster as they would say, stealing the joke without acknowledgment. They never acknowledge original authorship, believing as they do that googling has outmoded the law of copyright.”

I’ll ignore the crustacean humour?? As for acknowledgement… OK when the Daily Mail learns how to do it, then you can complain about it. Don’t judge every blogger by your own standards – yes there are blogs that rip content just as there are people who pirate CDs or newspapers that steal from online sources because ‘googling has outmoded the law of copyright’. Utter sloblock (I’m in Brit-humour mode now, and acknowledging it)

“Googlers and bloggers do not have an original thought between them. Their ruminations on tax reform, Europe, immigration, Iraq, security, education and the rest have already been googled ten times over by fellow bloggers copying their source material from some other blogger’s googling diatribe to the local newspaper.”

No, bloggers have an inordinate amount of original thoughts, which is why many mainstream media organisations take inspiration and content from them. Heck, the BBC do (and they acknowledge the source) and even have their own blogs.

The trouble with writing about something you don’t fully understand, Keith, is that your sentences don’t even make sense. “the rest have already been googled ten times over by fellow bloggers copying their source material from some other blogger’s googling diatribe to the local newspaper” WHAT???

“Hopefully, they will google themselves out of steam, replacing their hobby with games of draughts or snakes and ladders.”

Hobby? Oh, OK, that’ll be why AOL bought out Weblogs Inc for around $25m. That’ll be why b5media have just received $2m in venture capital? Blogs can be business – big business – and also highly influential. We are not all teenagers (mind you they get an underserved bad press too).

Maybe this is one of the dying cries of a MSM journo who hasn’t moved with the times (even though the rest of the DM thankfully has).

Bloggers aren’t (generally) claiming to be the ultimate authority on everything, but then neither should the mainstream media. There’s a place for both expressions of news and opinion, much of which is not simply recycled Google News, and diatribe from the likes of Mr Waterhouse doesn’t help anyone. Except Google perhaps 🙂

Let the visitor statistics prove which sources of online news and opinion are most valuable, Keith.

For a more measured and more DM friendly viewpoint, along the same lines, read Ashley’s post.

PS: The picture was blatantly stolen from the Daily Mail site, and I added my own ‘original’ words based on an unholy mix of “A Christmas Carol” and “Keith Waterhouse: The Musical” (I might’ve made that last bit up)

Andy Merrett

One thought on “Keith Waterhouse, the Daily Mail, Blogging, and the vast Googling tribe of nerds [Rant]

  • Many blogs are ill-informed diatribes distributed via the internet, as opposed to newspaper columns, many of which are ill-informed diatribes printed on paper. Newspaper columns may also be recycled by tearing into squares and hanging on a nail in the toilet, but that hardly elevates them to a noble art. Mr. Waterhouse belongs in the waterhouse.

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