Quite a bit has been written already about the Forbes article "Attack of the Blogs". Some of the better pieces include Doc Searls’ "Blogosmear", Steve Rubels "Forbes Cover Story Blows It". Neville Hobson decries it as "Shallow". TechDirt recommends "reading it as comedy". Scoble thinks "we’re all being played". The EFF has written a good piece deconstructing Forbes’ sidebar on how companies can fight back. And Randy sez "Forbes can go to hell".
There’s quite a bit of irony in Forbes decision to run an attack piece about attack blogs. They must see that. They must also know that controversy is good for sales.
Buried in the article is the simple observation that bloggers aren’t subject to the same conventions as the rest of the media, yet. Because of that, invective and misinformation makes its way into memespace. This is nothing new. Ever listen to Talk Radio? Even on the Internet it isn’t new. In 1994, one of my jobs at Microsoft was to arm a group of people with information about the "Chicago" (Windows 95) launch to counter mis-information being spread by IBM’s Team OS/2 on bulletin boards, and Compuserve. I called them the Baker Street Irregulars. There were 39 of them, who used to get the inside dope on what was going on with Windows 95, and spread that through the networks.
Bloggers, the good ones anyway, are pretty ethical humans. One of the defining characteristics of the blogosphere is, in fact, accountability. Reputation matters in a long tail environment. By and large, attack bloggers are discredited pretty quickly.
Forbes advice to corporations is exactly, 100%, wrong. We tried those approaches when I ran the Baker Street Irregulars. It led to escalation upon escalation. The most successful tactic was person to person engagement. I went to Team OS/2’s parties at trade shows. I had dinner with their members. Once we had common experiences to relate to, and mutual respect, we could have a productive dialog.
The blogosphere is the sixth media, after print, radio, television, the web, and industry analysts. Forbes article suggests that it is they that are fearful of the impact of blogs, rather than their readers.