Monday, February 5th, 2007

The rise and fall…and fall…of Robert Scoble


Robert Scoble seems to have hit minute 13 of his Warholian journey from exalted blogger to scorned shill. After being praised (rightly) as an independent voice from within Microsoft, Scoble moved on to the Podtech network, a company producing for-profit podcasts and vidcasts. All good so far, but then Scoble hyped up his new Scobleshow, a vidcast where he travels around to various businesses and startups and interviews key figures.

Again, that’s a great idea…but the execution left something to be desired. I’m not anyone to cast stones for poor production values, since Radio Free Skaro is recorded (crappily) in the Gizmo Project client and slapped together in Garageband in the space of about an hour. But there’s a world of difference between my nerdy podcast about Dr. Who, done out of interest and with what little spare time I have, and a well funded show starring an A-list blogger. The expectation of quality is there, and it just didn’t deliver. Of course, that didn’t stop Scoble from slapping me around a little on his blog for voicing my opinion.

But that was just the beginning of Scoble’s problems. More recently, he’s taken flak for ranting at Engadget and Gizmodo for not covering a boring tour of an Intel facility with sufficient enthusiasm (later recanted.) And his latest misstep is speaking at a conference for the highly controversial Payperpost, which is essentially a company dedicated to paying people to blog positively about products. Scoble says he’s there just to give a talk, which is probably true, but it hasn’t stopped Valleywag from hammering away at him as the target de jour.

Personally, I’m not sure the coal-raking he’s taken is entirely warranted…he just happens to be one of the most visible bloggers out there, and a series of missteps are being magnified by the incredible navel-gazing power of the blogosphere. But it remains to be seen if his current problems blow over, and more importantly if there’ll be any sort of closure to his current woes, before the digital mob moves on to its next hubristic target.

Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

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