Idiocy and blogging

Dave Winer wrote me a nice compliment today.

“The other day at lunch I was telling the Uncov guys that despite what they may think, Scoble really is brilliant, read this piece, I feel completely vindicated (though sometimes I read his stuff and shake my head in disbelief at how he could be so wrong).”

Oh, that brings up something I’ve been thinking about for a while:

If you aren’t willing to look like an idiot in public (or, even, prove that you ARE one) you won’t be a really great blogger.

Lately I’ve found that I’ve started worrying about LOOKING like an idiot to all of you and it’s stilted my writing. I started worrying about getting a better “rank” (whatever the heck THAT means). And all the hubris-filled-bullpucky that goes along with this stuff.

If you asked me whether I wanted to be invited to an Apple or Google press conference I’d drool on the floor and say “yes, yes, yes.” Now that I’ve been? I really can’t understand why I thought that at one point. It was a major flaw in my thinking.

But I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately. Who are the guys who I’d rather hang out with?

People who prove they are human.

Human beings make mistakes.

Human beings aren’t always smart. Even the smartest ones. Remember Douglas Engelbart, the guy who invented the mouse and many of the concepts you’re using today to read my blog? He got kicked out of the research industry in the 1970s cause he was weird. He wasn’t afraid of telling you what he thought the world would one day look like.

Anyway, back to being human. The best baseball players only hit the ball 33% of the time. And that’s the BEST ones.

So, excuse me if I sound like an idiot a lot of the time. Just hit “J” on your Google Reader and move along to a smarter post.

And if you’re expecting me to be smart here you’ll be sorely disappointed. I’d recommend reading my link blog instead. Why? That’s where I put all the smart stuff.

In the meantime, if you worry about looking like an idiot you’ll never take risks and you’ll never explore yourself. More idiocy ahead! :-)

Comments

  1. Hmmm, Robert, I read “The Idiot” by Dostoevsky, and you’re no Prince Mishkin (the idiot himself).

    Wait a minute, now I’m being an idiot! In Dostoevsky’s time, “idiot” referred to someone with epilepsy, not someone ranting senselessly like me now :)

    No fear of being occassionly wrong is a wonderful thing, which means I agree!

  2. Hmmm, Robert, I read “The Idiot” by Dostoevsky, and you’re no Prince Mishkin (the idiot himself).

    Wait a minute, now I’m being an idiot! In Dostoevsky’s time, “idiot” referred to someone with epilepsy, not someone ranting senselessly like me now :)

    No fear of being occassionly wrong is a wonderful thing, which means I agree!

  3. Glad to finally see some real blogging from you in the past week. It had gotten too boring to read your blog!

  4. Glad to finally see some real blogging from you in the past week. It had gotten too boring to read your blog!

  5. This looks like an apology for your ridiculous Apple tirade yesterday.

    Truth is, Robert, I don’t expect you to be “smart” anywhere any more. You’re all over the map in an attempt not to miss any “new wave” trend or event. PR departments fawn over you because they know this, and can usually get a good word from you or a video interview at the drop of a hat. You’ve become a PR whore. How can anyone take your latest views on what’s new and happening seriously? You like them ALL.

    Being an idiot at blogging doesn’t mean not being wrong. It means not posting idiotic stuff. From your latest post it would seem you don’t understand the distinction.

  6. This looks like an apology for your ridiculous Apple tirade yesterday.

    Truth is, Robert, I don’t expect you to be “smart” anywhere any more. You’re all over the map in an attempt not to miss any “new wave” trend or event. PR departments fawn over you because they know this, and can usually get a good word from you or a video interview at the drop of a hat. You’ve become a PR whore. How can anyone take your latest views on what’s new and happening seriously? You like them ALL.

    Being an idiot at blogging doesn’t mean not being wrong. It means not posting idiotic stuff. From your latest post it would seem you don’t understand the distinction.

  7. “The solution is simple — tell the truth”. I think right and wrong do not mater as much as being truthful. Part of the value of your blog is the content. Another part is the comments/discussion it sparks.

    As soon as you will start caring about what you look like the times you are wrong or be controversial just to increase traffic, you will start to kill some of the dynamics of this blog.

    I think that the only way to increase your audience is to keep the content+conversation balance and let word of mouth do its magic.

  8. “The solution is simple — tell the truth”. I think right and wrong do not mater as much as being truthful. Part of the value of your blog is the content. Another part is the comments/discussion it sparks.

    As soon as you will start caring about what you look like the times you are wrong or be controversial just to increase traffic, you will start to kill some of the dynamics of this blog.

    I think that the only way to increase your audience is to keep the content+conversation balance and let word of mouth do its magic.

  9. I live in the same general area that you do. I’m glad you’re not embarrassed looking like an idiot in public, because if I ever do see you around town, out in public, that’s exactly the way you’re going to look!

  10. One of the most fun parts of blogging is being an idiot. You’ve seen plenty of videos of me making a complete ass out of myself, and who cares?

  11. I live in the same general area that you do. I’m glad you’re not embarrassed looking like an idiot in public, because if I ever do see you around town, out in public, that’s exactly the way you’re going to look!

  12. One of the most fun parts of blogging is being an idiot. You’ve seen plenty of videos of me making a complete ass out of myself, and who cares?

  13. Robert,

    I have heard that you only learn from your mistakes. In that case, I am one of the smartest people I know ! :)

    Or the old adage: No pain, no gain! It does not just apply to exercise – it is for any endeavor.

    Yet another pertinent saying: those who can not do, teach. Would you be willing to take on some blogging interns? I have been blogging for years, and I also promote other bloggers, but I would love to learn from one of the pros.

    Ric

  14. Robert,

    I have heard that you only learn from your mistakes. In that case, I am one of the smartest people I know ! :)

    Or the old adage: No pain, no gain! It does not just apply to exercise – it is for any endeavor.

    Yet another pertinent saying: those who can not do, teach. Would you be willing to take on some blogging interns? I have been blogging for years, and I also promote other bloggers, but I would love to learn from one of the pros.

    Ric

  15. Robert, I agree with @4 in regards what it sounds like that prompted this post. To that I say this:

    THIS shows/links to what a true idiot can sound like.

    While THIS merely is some human being showing their capability of getting _way_ too emotional about a subject that is better that is both more properly discussed and objectively described in THIS.

  16. Robert, I agree with @4 in regards what it sounds like that prompted this post. To that I say this:

    THIS shows/links to what a true idiot can sound like.

    While THIS merely is some human being showing their capability of getting _way_ too emotional about a subject that is better that is both more properly discussed and objectively described in THIS.

  17. “Anyway, back to being human. The best baseball players only hit the ball 33% of the time. And that’s the BEST ones.”

    And the best ones also field the ball without making an error over 90% of the time. But you aren’t a baseball player so I’m not sure that is even remotely relevant to your defense. And that’s a physical skill–which you are not exhibiting. You get paid to comment and report on the tech industry. So I would think your audience, and employer would want you to be right more than %33 of the time. Afterall, aren’t the smartest students generally right over 90% of the time?

  18. “Anyway, back to being human. The best baseball players only hit the ball 33% of the time. And that’s the BEST ones.”

    And the best ones also field the ball without making an error over 90% of the time. But you aren’t a baseball player so I’m not sure that is even remotely relevant to your defense. And that’s a physical skill–which you are not exhibiting. You get paid to comment and report on the tech industry. So I would think your audience, and employer would want you to be right more than %33 of the time. Afterall, aren’t the smartest students generally right over 90% of the time?

  19. To Thine Own Self Be True! Robert, you’re intelligent, respected, have a beautiful wife and a wonderful, loving family. It really doesn’t get much better than that. Mate, You are a child of the universe, no less than the stars in the sky, and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Sorry for the lack of originality but depression has taken a swathe out of my family, and I’ll fight it tooth and nail, every chance I get. Peace, and chill out.

  20. To Thine Own Self Be True! Robert, you’re intelligent, respected, have a beautiful wife and a wonderful, loving family. It really doesn’t get much better than that. Mate, You are a child of the universe, no less than the stars in the sky, and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Sorry for the lack of originality but depression has taken a swathe out of my family, and I’ll fight it tooth and nail, every chance I get. Peace, and chill out.

  21. Robert, I read your blog because you have access to people and news that I don’t. I also value your opinion because of your experience in the world of tech and media.

    Sure I won’t always agree with your point of view and sure you will sometimes get things wrong, but does this make you an idiot? Not in my book. I reckon Edwin @6 has it spot on – just write the truth. It’s all you can do.

  22. Robert, I read your blog because you have access to people and news that I don’t. I also value your opinion because of your experience in the world of tech and media.

    Sure I won’t always agree with your point of view and sure you will sometimes get things wrong, but does this make you an idiot? Not in my book. I reckon Edwin @6 has it spot on – just write the truth. It’s all you can do.

  23. Consistency vs. Authenticity: Please Look Like an Idiot Sometimes

    Robert Scoble has a blog. Robert Scoble’s blog is kinda famous. Robert is kinda famous for his blog.
    And by “kinda famous” I mean “very famous.”
    Famous people tend to get sucked into the realm of “needing to stay f…

  24. But there are varieties of idiocy, aren’t there? If you mean that one shouldn’t be afraid to risk looking idiotic by expressing some out-there viewpoint, or saying something outrageous, or challenging common assumptions, then you’re right.

    But frankly, I think a lot of bloggers would do well to think through their posts a bit before writing them. I’m not saying they need to be mini white papers, but when a writer bothers to organize his thoughts and write something slightly more structured, it means better communication. Maybe that’s stilted; I think of it as respectful to the people who are investing time in reading.

  25. But there are varieties of idiocy, aren’t there? If you mean that one shouldn’t be afraid to risk looking idiotic by expressing some out-there viewpoint, or saying something outrageous, or challenging common assumptions, then you’re right.

    But frankly, I think a lot of bloggers would do well to think through their posts a bit before writing them. I’m not saying they need to be mini white papers, but when a writer bothers to organize his thoughts and write something slightly more structured, it means better communication. Maybe that’s stilted; I think of it as respectful to the people who are investing time in reading.

  26. Hugh (#17),

    Did you have a point to make? If so, please make it.

    Meanwhile, Robert’s recent Apple rants are far, FAR, closer to trolling (though I didn’t clam them to be such) than anything I have on my blog or elsewhere.

    With friends like you, Robert apparently doesn’t need any arguments.

  27. Hugh (#17),

    Did you have a point to make? If so, please make it.

    Meanwhile, Robert’s recent Apple rants are far, FAR, closer to trolling (though I didn’t clam them to be such) than anything I have on my blog or elsewhere.

    With friends like you, Robert apparently doesn’t need any arguments.

  28. “if you worry about looking like an idiot you’ll never take risks and you’ll never explore yourself”

    … That puts the effort of blogging into perspective. Idiots don’t have perspective. So you’ve got nothing to worry about… The rest of us should be so lucky!

  29. “if you worry about looking like an idiot you’ll never take risks and you’ll never explore yourself”

    … That puts the effort of blogging into perspective. Idiots don’t have perspective. So you’ve got nothing to worry about… The rest of us should be so lucky!

  30. I /really/ liked this post Robert. I think a blog is more about being genuine (or should be). It makes it more human. Life is complicated. People have rough edges. But people are precious treasures with all their feelings, fears, and hopes. Being real is being human. I’m feeling those human limits right now trying to express what I mean… but that’s okay in my book.

  31. I /really/ liked this post Robert. I think a blog is more about being genuine (or should be). It makes it more human. Life is complicated. People have rough edges. But people are precious treasures with all their feelings, fears, and hopes. Being real is being human. I’m feeling those human limits right now trying to express what I mean… but that’s okay in my book.

  32. Good post, Robert.

    Blake @13: The best students are right more than 90% of the time on ESTABLISHED topics. E.g. if you’re studying chemistry, many of the basic parts of the Periodic Table are well-worked-out, well-understood, and you can be expected to learn it and get it “right”. E.g. we know for sure the dates of the battles in the Revolutionary War. Et cetera.

    But with his early-adopter, wide-gauge enthusiasm for everything NEW, Robert isn’t dealing in established topics. For better or worse (or indifferent, or just weird), he chooses to inhabit part of the EDGE of our knowledge. So expecting 90% success or accuracy or “correct”-ness doesn’t even make sense in terms of what he does. We can expect 99% correctness in his English grammar, but otherwise — it’s all one long, ongoing experiment.

  33. Good post, Robert.

    Blake @13: The best students are right more than 90% of the time on ESTABLISHED topics. E.g. if you’re studying chemistry, many of the basic parts of the Periodic Table are well-worked-out, well-understood, and you can be expected to learn it and get it “right”. E.g. we know for sure the dates of the battles in the Revolutionary War. Et cetera.

    But with his early-adopter, wide-gauge enthusiasm for everything NEW, Robert isn’t dealing in established topics. For better or worse (or indifferent, or just weird), he chooses to inhabit part of the EDGE of our knowledge. So expecting 90% success or accuracy or “correct”-ness doesn’t even make sense in terms of what he does. We can expect 99% correctness in his English grammar, but otherwise — it’s all one long, ongoing experiment.

  34. I am always surprised when you are used as a punching bag. I like what you do and I appreciate your enthusiasm. I often disagree with you but I am never turned off because I think you are genuine. I am getting tired of the culture of bullying in the blogging world. Sadly, I expect it to only get worse.

  35. I am always surprised when you are used as a punching bag. I like what you do and I appreciate your enthusiasm. I often disagree with you but I am never turned off because I think you are genuine. I am getting tired of the culture of bullying in the blogging world. Sadly, I expect it to only get worse.