When Politics Invades the Tech Blogosphere

Posted on September 4, 2008
Filed Under Culture & Technology |

With elections in the United States just two months away, it’s not surprising that political talk (and blabber) has invaded the technology blogosphere.

TechCrunch got involved early - it launched the because it wanted “to provide a voice for digital policy and technology issues in the upcoming U.S. Presidential election.” Fine, but recently, TechCrunch editor Erick Schonfeld took some heat for a political post that was read by some as being in bad taste.

Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins at Mashable is also known to interject his political opinions into his writing. His recent post about Sarah Palin looked a bit out of place on Mashable.

And Dave Winer, the “father of blogging and RSS,” yesterday published his own Palin piece.

These are but a few examples of the fact that in an election year, the technology blogosphere has merged with the political blogosphere.

Of course, this isn’t entirely surprising. Politics is a subject people are passionate about. It brings out emotions and fuels tensions. People want to debate and discuss it. As Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a political animal.”

And given that technology is (supposedly) playing a major, substantive role in the American political scene this year, there is room for some discussion about the intersection of technology and politics.

I, for instance, have discussed politics on The Drama 2.0 Show in the context of how politicians are now using the Internet and social media as another medium through which their bullshit can be broadcast and how misguided efforts to change politics through technology aren’t going to work. I’ve also discussed economic issues, which are inseparable from politics.

But in my opinion, many in the technology blogosphere have crossed the line by getting too detailed when it comes to specific political views and specific candidates. Once a blogger’s political affiliation and candidate of choice becomes clear - especially during an election season - things have probably gone too far.

Let’s face it: when it comes to politics, opinions are truly like assholes - everybody has one. And just as most people don’t want to look at pictures of assholes all day, most people, especially those reading technology blogs, probably don’t want to read political opinions from their favorite technology bloggers.

Obviously, it’s unrealistic to expect that bloggers will be able to completely neuter the urge to express their political views. But for blogs that are published to generate profit (or for individuals with industry reputations to maintain), I believe that those who get too political are foolish.

Why? The passion and emotion it evokes can quickly lead to conflict.

Technology bloggers (and popular industry personalities) really have nothing to gain from broadcasting their political views and they have a lot to lose. It’s not difficult to alienate readers and turn people off.

Frankly, I could care less what Michael Arrington, Erick Schonfeld, Mark “Rizzn” Hopkins and Dave Winer think about American politics and presidential candidates.

And most of their readers probably care less too.

Fortunately, at least one other technology blogger recognizes the wisdom of not discussing politics.

Steve Hodson of WinExtra :

If there are two things that can ruin friendships faster than anything else in this world it is when the discussion turns to politics or religion. Either subject has the ability to turn a roomful of otherwise intelligent people into stark raving lunatics in short order.

And most importantly:

The problem is that [when politics is discussed it is] incredibly hard to filter out and in the process ruin[s] my experience of enjoying my daily news intake. Another problem is that it can also create an impression of the service of having a particular political (or religious or sexual) bias that can in effect harm the reputation of that particular service.

In conclusion, here’s some advice for technology bloggers who can’t control the urge to inject their political beliefs into their posts: politics itself may be big business but discussing politics is usually bad business.

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One Response to “When Politics Invades the Tech Blogosphere”

  1. Matt Webb on September 4th, 2008 10:42 am

    Very good points indeed. However, there are those out there that are trying to invoke the confrontation because they think its a sure fire way to get traffic and a little bit of blogging celebrity.

    Sad part is, it’s only going to get worse for the next few months until they can go and vote and get this shit out of their system.

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