Scoble’s Non-Existent 45 Second Advantage

Posted on June 13, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |

I really can’t help it. I prefer to avoid any appearance that I’m “picking on” somebody, but Robert Scoble happens to be the best provider of great material for blog posts highlighting the absurdity and stupidity present in Web 2.0.

He provided yet more material when he described his experience in an Apple Store this past Monday.

Unable to contain himself, he couldn’t muster up the will-power to disconnect from the Internet and apparently felt compelled to follow his favorite websites to find out what was going on with Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

What did he learn? Something extremely important:

FriendFeed was better than any of the other sites. Why? Because it had all the sites and more. Most of the time I learned about the latest Steve Jobs announcement on FriendFeed 45 seconds before I saw it pop up on MacRumorsLive.

Yes, you read that correctly. FriendFeed provided information a whopping 45 seconds faster than the 10,000 other Web 2.0 services Scoble was refreshing on a second by second basis.

In today’s information society, those 45 seconds could make a huge difference. After all, if Scoble can’t find the most important and interesting technology news at least 15 seconds before other geeks, I am informed that the blogosphere itself could theoretically melt down.

Sarcasm aside, I respect that we live in a fast-paced world. But let’s be honest here. It’s not like Scoble was holding 5,000 put contracts on a volatile stock and waiting for important information that would affect his position.

The reality is that there is absolutely no practical advantage to Scoble’s ability to access technology news seconds earlier using one service over the other.

Fortunately, other commenters have called him on it. One commenter in particular, “Geoff,” put it best:

Geoff Says:
June 11th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Well, Damien, you don’t seem to understand technology very well.

You see, Robert could have waited until the keynote was over, so that he could read a summary from a reputable source like a normal person. But those carefully prepared summaries wouldn’t contain the hastily written, poorly thought out semi-facts of the quickly fired-off Friendfeed tidbits, nor would they contain all of those charming typos and that oh-so-cute lack of punctuation.

Or, he could have relied solely on one of these other, crappier sites for his “live” reports. But… come on. Those sites were, like, full seconds behind Friendfeed! *Seconds*, man!

So, Robert used Friendfeed, a service that was created and maintained by Mohamed, Jesus Christ, Buddha and Vishnu. Thanks to this wisest of choices, Robert knew things a full 45 seconds before anyone else in the world, he says! (Except for the many people who were actually there. Or the many people who listened to the direct audio stream.) Why, he was amazed, Robert was!

With this extra 45 second headstart on most of the rest of the world, Robert was able to do…. well, nothing. But he did manage to waste an hour or so, and attracted a few dozen concerned stares in an Apple Store while he was feverishly refreshing several pages, when reading the full summary a few seconds after the event concluded would have taken him only five minutes.

You see, savvy users like Robert know that technology is really all about making our less complicated and more efficient. Friendfeed, man — it’ll change your life.

Geoff’s comment highlights two of the absurdities of Web 2.0:

The truth is that in an information society, true value is derived not from having access to more information, but from having access to the right information and having the ability to analyze it in an efficient manner.

One of the best ways to put this in perspective is to consider how information is used when something significant is at stake, like money.

Let’s use day trading as an example. A day trader has a seemingly endless array of information sources, from news reports to analyst briefs to a wide range of technical indicators.

Although there are many sources of timely information available, there are realistically only so many sources of information that a day trader can rely on - the use of too many will simply require too much effort to analyze, resulting in inefficiency that can be extremely costly.

This highlights the fact that choosing the right sources of information and having the ability to analyze them in an efficient manner is of far more importance than simply having access to lots of timely sources of information.

Obviously, the information being “shared” through Web 2.0 services is typically more trite and less “mission critical” than the type of information a day trader relies on.

Nonetheless I’m always amused by the fact that in a world where far more opportunity lies in providing access to quality information, Web 2.0 seems to have focused instead on creating “platforms” that encourage the “sharing” of higher quantities of lower-quality information.

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7 Responses to “Scoble’s Non-Existent 45 Second Advantage”

  1. Mary Trigiani on June 13th, 2008 11:31 am

    You are my new favorite blog. Your perspective is refreshing and your analysis is right-on.

  2. Mike Rundle on June 13th, 2008 12:13 pm

    “Far too much value is placed on quantity, not quality.”

    Absolutely and utterly true. Unbelievably true. And nobody really understands that quality is what gets you paid, not quantity.

  3. rob on June 13th, 2008 12:35 pm

    “Absolutely and utterly true. Unbelievably true. And nobody really understands that quality is what gets you paid, not quantity.”

    Don’t tell Scoble that. Someone must have told him they pay by the tweet.

  4. Tom on June 16th, 2008 4:52 am

    At least in this case the information was accurate. Most times you don’t even get that.

    I made a post a while back about Scoble bragging that he found out about the Earthquake in China on Twitter before the US Geological Service Website had it.

    I hunted down the info and it turned out Twitter reported it a mere 4 minutes before the USGS (which I’m sure they were using to verify their findings) and the info was wrong.

    The Twitter report said “earthquake in Beijing” which was a full 950 miles away from the actual epicenter.

    The whole thing was kind of silly

  5. Geoff on June 16th, 2008 11:53 am

    I actually wrote the comment quoted in this entry, and I’m glad to see someone else actually gets it. Scoble caries three phones. That’s three more than I carry, and yet I manage to successfully hold down a job, remain married, and keep in touch with friends just like he does.

    Sometimes I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall when I try to point out some of these absurdities. While working in the tech world and being exposed to crazy always-on techies like Scoble, it’s easy to feel like I’m the crazy one in a sea of sane people, but I try to keep convincing myself that it’s still probably the other way around.

  6. Vince Williams on June 17th, 2008 3:17 pm

    Well said. I see Scoble as the personification of a hype-machine.

  7. on August 18th, 2008 10:27 am

    […] aside, I find it ironic that Twitter users celebrate the fact that they often have access to breaking news “faster than everyone else.” […]

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