14 May 2015

Information Providers

This story is already old and well known, and many a commentator and stylophile have voiced their opinions and views. But I am slow and had to take some time.

Some months ago the very active website FPGeeks went blank and, in fact, it has not showed any activity since then. The team formed by Eric Schneider and Dan Smith seems to be broken beyond repair. And later on we learned that Dan Smith had joined the company Kenro Industries, distributor of Aurora, Omas, Montegrappa, Tibaldi, in the US, as Director of Social Media.

The devil is often hidden in the details, but in essence this issue seems to be yet another example of conflict between money and freedom. Or, in other words, how much does information cost?

The Internet is full of free information. Not always reliable, but certainly free. Blogs and fora and a number of websites cost nothing to the reader (save, that is, for the internet service to be paid to the provider), and we all have become too comfortable with this fact. But all of those sites rely on the work and time and resources of a number of people.

How sustainable is this system? So far, it seems to be doing very well. And the main reason might be a simple one—there is enough number of information providers, of people, willing to share their resources. Consequently, the total load of work per capita is acceptable. And when someone could not cope with that load, another aficionado will promptly fill the void.

The information thus offered could be considered free of economic bias. There are no obvious economic incentives and authors would, in principle, feel free to express any opinion, positive and negative, on products and services.

The problem arises when the information providers look for some compensation for their dedication and resources. Some websites have advertisements, some blog authors ask for donations, some fora restrict what could be said on them to avoid annoying some actual or potential sponsors (::1::, ::2::)…

How does all this money affect the ecosystem of information in the Net? Economic incentives often, if not always, introduce bias in the expressed opinions. An obvious example, and not an extreme case, is that of Dan Smith—working for Kenro Industries, he will hardly say anything negative about the pens this company distributes. He is still an information provider, but a biased one.

It is not easy to draw a line between what is an acceptable incentive and what becomes a source of unacceptable bias. It is, in fact, a lot worse—those lines are personal. And, probably, differences in opinion about that line caused the break up of the Dan and Eric team and the present disappearance of the FPGeeks site.

Platinum 3776 (1984) – Parker Quink Blue

Bruno Taut
Nakano, May 4th, 2015
etiquetas: metabitácora, fora


Dr. D said...

Hello dear friend Bruno!

Very interesting post and thoughts!
I had viewed the warning at FPGeeks and didn´t know what was really happening.

Your comments opens my eyes.

It´s true, we sometimes are confident that certain blogs, forums , and other Internet sources, lacking of financial support or commercial interests should be unbiassed. These are the type of places I prefer to visit in search of information about products presently available or new.

Anyway I feel that the FPGeek place was not the same as just a few years ago in this respect.

Thanks for another great piece to read. Receive my best cordial regards!

Paul Bloch said...

Jose Luis -

There is a very old joke about a woman walking up to a man in a bar. After looking her over, he says, "$50." Indignantly she replies, "What do you think I am?" To which he responds, "We know what you are, dear, we're just negotiating the price!"

With me, it has become a cliche that when collecting and commerce collide, commerce always wins. Far too many so-called collectors hide behind their biases in order to further their commercial interests. To them I say, "We know what you are!" There are people I have encountered along the trail with whom I no longer maintain contact, as our objectives are different. There are others whose motives seem clear, and visits to their sites are always enjoyable and often educational.

Why do you think I come back here?

Paul Bloch

Bruno Taut said...

Thanks you, Paul and Dr D, for your nice comments and your support--and for returning to this blog!. Nothing can I ad to your insights. However, we should take into account that this world of pen aficionados is a small one and we are all well connected.



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