March 27, 2006

The Shitting Point

It started when Joi Ito all but abandoned his blog for Second Life. Few bloggers were writing about the -- well, "game" doesn't seem to do it justice; perhaps: lifestyle choice? -- when Joi made a mad dash for the virtual new world order. But that would change. Within six months, Dave Winer would predict that second life might be the OS of the 21st Century.

Speaking of Dave, shortly before uttering that prophetic piece of web wisdom, he announced his retirement from blogging, sayng that he would quit blogging by the end of the year. The blogworld gasped for a nano second before launching into all maners of parody. God love the Interweb.

This week, when Microsoft announced the delay of Vista and estimates of a 60-percent rewrite hit the blogosphere, Scoble nearly burst a blood vessle. The Naked Conversations author and cluetrainian student admitted on his blog that he was wrong about the importance of "getting the story first" and now believes (channeling George Bush on Terror) that "we need to be vigilant against bad journalism."

These not so insignificant developments within the blogworld have some wondering: WTF?

I've remained optimistic about blogging's future on this site -- you know, when it's actually up and running and not just a white, empty screen (fuck you, Blogger) -- declaring my loyalty to the sphere and my little plot of land within it.

Fighting the good fight. Carrying on. Etc. Etc.

But something has changed.

Repercussions from Scoble's recent rant about Truth, Journalism, and The American Way -- combined with the exodus (and planned exodus) of high-profile thinkers and money makers from the blogosphere -- signifies something important for blogging.

The Shitting Point.

What is The Shitting Point? The Shitting Point is precise moment that a Brand-Movement-or-Medium shits the bed. Craps out. Gives in. Gives up.

One characteristic of The Shitting Point? When participants in a Brand-Movement-or-Medium begin to really believe what they say. And most of what they say is that theirs doesn't stink.

The Shitting Point is much easier to identify in the virtual world because, as we all know, Google remembers everything and hyperlinks don't lie.

Here are some signs that we've hit The Shitting Point with blogging.

1) People use more words than necessary when talking about it. Before The Shitting Point, folks involved in "the coolest new thing" have a secret, shared language used to discuss and describe it. New terms emerge and become part of our culture. Reach The Shitting Point, and these same folks are universally understood to be speaking assholese. They typically use extra words to cover up the fact that they have nothing new to say. Often you will see words like Transparency, Ethics, and Credibility rear their ugly heads.

2) Anyone who disagrees is an evil doer. Before The Shitting Point, a school yard fist fight over the last cigarette (okay, I started smoking early) -- and a few ad hominem attacks among friends -- were just another way to start the day off right. Once you reach the Shitting Point, challengers to blatent stupidity are labeled "Trolls" and "Flamers."

3) Hyperlinks morph from gems of discovery to unnecessary exertion of the wrist.

4) Everything Becomes Collaborative. This is BIG red flag for The Shitting Point. When you hear terms like "collaboration" and "commons," being used by Corporations, it means that you're about to be shat on. The shitting point ranges from five to seven years after these terms are first uttered. Always. When large numbers of people begin attending conferences that use these terms, Run Like Hell.

5) IBM.

It is with some sadness that I bring you this news today, this explanation of why things don't feel right just now. And yet it is with hope too that I come to you.

Because with knowledge comes understanding, and with understanding comes... understanding.

The Shitting Point is a natural part of creative evolution. It's something to be embraced (don't think about it) as much as mourned. It's a time for celebration and a time for grieving, for letting go.

It's a time to discover what's next.

Just don't forget to wash your hands.

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