(Faked) Conversations as Advertising

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I posted a couple of days ago about Hugh MacLeod's website.

If you mosey down to his post Flacked by Chanel?, you'll see that he's getting posts on his website that look like something that could have been written by the folks over at BzzAgents.

I myself was interested because I nearly got taken in by a corporate sponsored disinformation campaign.

There's a method for writing and deploying software that involves having a lot of the work already done. This method is pretty simple: you write a deployment platform and then host your applications on the platform. The various folks who vend this stuff are known mostly by three letter acronyms: IBM, CDN, BEA. JBoss, on the other hand, is a four letter word. More below.

Often, companies misrepresent the capabilities of their product. It's usually too subtle to be outright lying and if you carefully read what's written and construct everything that isn't written a more complete picture emerges.

One of the chief ways that I construct what hasn't been written is to read blogs and forums. Blogs, forums, Usenet News and IRC channels are a great way to get unfiltered feedback from the communities that actually use these products.

I did this. I got great insight into how various products work and was able to construct a rough map of strengths and weaknesses.

With one exception. A product that had substantial buzz turned out to have some serious flaws. The existence of these flaws had question marks all over them because there was considerable disagreement within the community. Both sides of the debate seemed, to my uneducated eye, to be equally knowledgeable and capable. Both were equally richly developed. Both evinced technical depth and emotional sincerity. Both were present in large numbers.

Imagine my surprise, then, when one side of the debate was discovered to be fabricated.

JBoss was fabricating the existence of a large, successful user group, a collection of technical experts who made their living consulting implementations of their product and an active base of competent coders who were willing to answer questions.

From a corporate point of view; astroturf organizations have been around for a long time and this is just a variation on a theme.

I would not have figured it out on my own; I'm grateful to some bloggers who gave their assistance:

Hani Page, Mike Spille and Rickard 謆erg

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Those who make a living attempting to influence public opinion have a right to express a contrary point of view in the public domain.

I agree with Basil. What harm is there in some PR flack playing devil's advocate in online forums?

Listen, big corporations are too busy making money for shareholders to bother convincing one consumer at a time. That's why they need PR campaigns to artificially create the sense that they care.

Thank you, Hermes, for your words. Truth is something best left for philosophers. We deal with the facts. And when the facts do not support our conclusion, then we MUST make new facst.

Please tell me you boys are just playin'.

Basil is making a point.

And I say that for a very specific reason.

It's all Basil, who isn't even Basil.

(check the email address(es) & the time line) - and the fact that the "philosopher" open states that 'he' creates new facts to fit the conclusion...

Never Believe Basil

Okay, okay, thanks for the reassurance.

(Do you mean to tell me that Basil and Hermes are one in the same?)

We are many sides of the same person. All sides lack credibility.

also . . . who? (I am nosy!)

I agree with Jason.

What! Never believe Basil? Are you crazy, you crazy person. Always believe Basil. Basil is always right and always wonderful and he was beautiful in the movie, too!

Thyme is definitely talking smack! Don't listen to her. She's just a little sister that has put Basil on a pedestal. And, by the way, you have to admit, Nicole Kidman is pretty rockin!

Embrace the weirdness, that's what I say!!

Hahahaha...I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!

Jason? Thyme? Virgil?
Are these the other children I didn't have?

Okay, I'll just embrace the weirdness!

Just to clarify, while Basil is not really Basil, he is also not Nathan. Basil has started his own weirdness at ihat.blogspot.com.

Hello, Basil.

It is a genuine pleasure to see you active once again, and with your own blog, to boot.

Happy Birthday, Nae! Seeing as how you were up at 4:47 a.m., I won't call you for a while :-)

Hey, Sis!

I had a business meeting with Cisco this morning at half nine, and David Plain (my boss at ThruPoint) stopped by at half eight to talk over some business development strategies.

In the immortal words of David Calder, I was "feelin' as rough as a badger's arse." Aye, David, aye.

hey nae! Happy birthday!
wow, you're... oh, I won't say it. you know how old you are: )

And I wanted to be the first to say it! Oh, well, I always was at least two steps behind you, Nae. Happy Birthday! Now, go buy yourself an overcoat for a birthday present.
Lot's of love,

I have been worried all week I'd forget your birthday but i woke up and that was the first t hing I thought of...Happy Birthday and see you soon!

Nathan, it's fora, not forums. And could you bother to return an email or two?

Sorry, but what is kimerikas?


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This page contains a single entry by Nate published on December 12, 2004 12:33 AM.

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