Conflicts of disinterest

This post is about one of the paradoxes of blogging credibility that’s been on my mind on and off throughout the years, more on than off lately.

There has been much discussion in the blogosphere about conflicts of interest. The norms are pretty well established. For example, if you write about a company that you’ve invested in, it’s okay to heap praise on the company so long as you disclose your interest to the reader. Similarly, if you write about a company that competes with a company you’ve invested it in, it’s okay to criticize the company so long as you disclose your interest.

Trickier is how to handle what one does not write about: people you’d rather not promote, companies that you have a hard time supporting, and so on. To properly disclose your disinterest you’d need to put up a page listing out all of the people and companies you’re going to neglect. But if you do so, you’re drawing attention to those very subjects.

That’s the paradox.

Hijacking is only half the story

The vivid and viral term “rss hijacking” describes only half of the problem with the SplashCast service. The other is permission. If you want to make a copy of piece of media, create a derivative work and host it on your own server, you need to get permission first. You may be a really nice person and believe that your intentions are good. You may even be losing money for the benefit of users. You still need to get permission.

Like Adam Curry I’m surprised by the relatively muted reaction in the community. PodShow (my employer) took at least twice as much heat for half the sin.


Adam Curry: “To protect our property we will now have to ‘opt-out’. Puting the burden on us of finding all the stolen shows and requesting them to no longer be copied illegaly.”

Andrew Herron: “re-encoding video with an opt-out system instead of an opt-in system may give you a bigger content base, but it’s still content theft.”