Brain Dead Bloggers

John Dvorak, a PC Magazine editor, takes a swipe at bloggers in an article on the issue of “tagging.”*

Enter yet another more baffling attempt at tagging. This one is fascinating since it’s been gussied up with a new name, and for some unknown reason been given the blessing of a bunch of brain-dead bloggers. This is because a few of the favorite sites that the bloggers love have tacitly approved of the so-called—get this—”folksonomy tags.” Oh, a new term! This one is a laugh riot, since there is nothing new here except the new name: Folksonomy. I mean even in HTML there was the “metatag.”


The influential bloggers should be defined here. These are people whom you’ve never heard of, but whom other influential A-list utopianist bloggers all know. I reckon there are about 500 of them. He (or she) influences other like-minded bloggers, creating a groupthink form of critical mass, just like atomic fission, as they bounce off each other with repetitive cross-links: trackback links, self-congratulatory links, confirmations, and praise-for-their-genius links. BOOM! You get a formidable explosion—an A-bomb of groupthink. You could get radiation sickness if you happen to be in the area. Except for Wired online and a few media bloggers, nobody is in the area, so nobody outside the groupthink community really cares about any of this. These explosions are generally self-contained and harmless to the environment.


The “folksonomy” notion is the bloggers’ last hope of invention, although it’s a rewrite of the prebubble “semantic Web” technology at best. And it too is doomed to failure. The utopianism and idealism that exist in the online societies ignore the real problem with tags, metatags, übertags, folksonomies, and the like. This is because they honestly think that most people are goodhearted. The online world, because of its anonymity, encourages bad behavior. “You suck!” is a common post, and it would be the number-one tag if tagging ever became popular. Then would come the tags about “Online Casino!” One site promoting folksonomies is the darling of the bloggers:—an excellent photo-sharing site where being in perpetual beta is a marketing tool. The same people who hate Java and Flash love Flickr, which epitomizes everything good and bad about Java and Flash. Okay, whatever.

Who, exactly, are these A-list bloggers who are promoting the “Folksonomy” tags? I’d never heard of it or seen reference to it on any of the dozens of blogs I read, including many A-listers. The Wikipedia entry on the subject says it originated in 2004 at something called, which ain’t a blog. The only thing even related to blogs in the entry is Technorati.

Now, Technorati has been pushing the “tag” idea for a few months, and I’ve seen a bit of discussion of that on the blogs. It hasn’t exactly taken off, though. And, certainly, I can’t imagine too many A-list bloggers tagging “You suck!” and the like to their posts.

*I stumbled on it when reading the Spam Zomby article and thought it would be useful for some content management stuff I’m doing at the office. It wasn’t.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, Environment, Science & Technology, Uncategorized,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Eric J says:

    These tags are a big deal (or at least a fad) with the BoingBoing crowd, who make a lot of use of and Flikr.

  2. Jim Durbin says:

    The author’s blog is blocked by my Sentian filter for being Tasteless/Gross.

    I would have suggested clueless – have heard no big explosion about tagging in my circles either.

    My guess is the poor fellow doesn’t understand the topology of the web. Strange, for a PC magazine editor.

    Does the PC stand for Persistently Corrected?

  3. Mikey says:

    Permanently Cranky.

  4. Shouldn’t that first line read “John Dvorak, a PC Magazine editor, takes a swipe at bloggers again“?

    For a guy who has been involved in tech for a long time, he is quite averse (in some pieces I have read) to blogging.