Crimes Against the Internets: Valleywag

When you’re a procrastinator, like I am, and you work from home on a computer, like I do, you end up seeing a lot of stupid on the internets. Stupidity on such a level that it’s not enough to just sit back and say, “man, is that stupid;” you’ve got to go evangelical and spread the word.

When you’re as lazy and attention-deprived as I am, that sense of indignation fades quickly, and you move on. I always assumed that I’d be bitching about digg.com (slashdot for sub-literates) or Television Without Pity (a TV website that’s populated entirely by the abrasive, plain girls everybody avoided in high school, and still somehow manages to be even gayer than gay.com). But it’s hard to work up enough enthusiasm to rag on them.

For some reason this post on Valleywag pushed me over the edge. I’m a fan of Sjöberg’s, but not enough to jump to defend him or anything — for all I know, the guy’s a dick in real life. Still, he’s funny, he’s occasionally insightful, and he puts genuine content out there on the internets for free. Valleywag can only claim three one out of those four.

The pointlessness of it is what bugs me. What’s the point of ragging on a column and its author for not being tech-oriented when the author’s said he’s approaching it not as a tech column? “Can’t be bothered to do his job?” Where did that come from?

Now, I get the impression that because I write a post for SFist every once in a while (when I’m not out of town), I’m supposed to have some kind of weird relationship with the Valleywag. I haven’t quite figured it out — based on the comments I’ve read, either I’m supposed to lay off them as an unprofessional courtesy, or I’m supposed to have some kind of friendly rivalry going on. I don’t get that, because I don’t see what there is in common:

  • I don’t have any illusions about being a tech journalist or insider. I look at what real insiders and journalists write, repeat it, and then add my half-baked opinions and references to movies and TV shows. I guess you could say that I do for real tech news what “The Family Guy” and “Robot Chicken” do for real comedy.
  • I’m not a moron.

I used to assume that even though I think a gossip site about silicon valley was a completely stupid concept, that there are people out there who are into that kind of thing. Now I think that even if there are people into that kind of thing, they are also stupid.

Apple’s known for the yabbos who are obsessed with Steve Jobs. They deserve to get made fun of, but Valleywag’s missing the point. They don’t deserve to be ragged on because they’re obsequious, they deserve to be ragged on because they’re obsessed with Steve Jobs. Pointing out completely irrelevant gossip about Steve Jobs isn’t any “cooler.” And at least he’s someone notable — who the hell cares to see candid photos of the Google founders wearing a dress? Or read some moron bitterly ragging on something as stupid as an internet website?

3 thoughts on “Crimes Against the Internets: Valleywag”

  1. Well, I’ll admit to reading (and only occasionally liking) Valleywag, but that’s just because I work in silicon valley and I keep hoping they’ll mention me one day.

  2. Oh, huh, that’s kind of funny, for two reasons. First off, I also write for Kotaku, which is owned by the same company that owns Valleywag, so there’s kind of a left hand/right hand thing going on there. More to the point, though, I had no idea I was well-known enough to inspire gossip. That’s kind of neat and flattering that they didn’t expect people so say “Lore what? Who now? Why do I care?”

    It seemed like a lot of people were thrown off by a column that didn’t have a tech hook. I never advertised a tech hook, but I guess because it’s on Wired they expect one. I wonder if I’ll get the same reaction about something that’s not tech, but not so biological.

  3. Well, Kotaku or not, I guess they figured that since you write a column for Wired that makes you The Establishment and they’ve gotta rag on that to Keep It Real.

    And no offense, but inclusion on Valleywag is no real measure of fame — this is a site that regularly gossips about Robert Scoble and Matt Mullenweg and already assumes that everybody knows the life story of Craig Newmark (who apparently is the guy behind craigslist).

    Still, you probably want to keep any pictures of yourself driving with a baby in your lap off of flickr. (Unless the Valleywag kind of attention is what you’re going for, of course).

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