Rocketboom: maybe the blogosphere IS high school, after all

As I was shaking up my blog look and construction about half a year ago, I remember reading Jakob Nielsen’s alertbox on blog usability.

One of the things that stuck with me is Jakob’s insistence that the internet is not high school:

A related mistake in this category is to use insider shorthand, such as using first names when you reference other writers or weblogs. Unless you’re writing only for your friends, don’t alienate new visitors by appearing to be part of a closed clique. The Web is not high school.

Hrm. The whole RocketBoom breakup episode has me thinking. What if the blogosphere really is high school after all?

Think about it:

The top of the heap
You’ve got high status bloggers – A-list, B-list, whatever-list: they exist. They are the jocks or preppies or whatever the jargon-du-jour is.

Andrew Baron and Amanda Congdon are among those elite. So are others who are blogging about the high-profile spat: Michael Arrington and Dave Winer.

First names, please
Dave apparently didn’t get Jakob’s memo; he’s still on a first-name-only basis:

What we know and don’t know about Amanda, Andrew and Rocketboom:

Nowhere in Amanda’s video does she say she was fired.

High profile break-up, lots of rumors
Isn’t it so high school … the cheerleader prom queen and the football quarterback break up and everybody starts talking about it.

I mean everybody. No, e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.

Sheesh. There’s even lousy pictures drawn on bathroom walls about it.

And, of course, the other really cool guy on campus has just muscled in and started sweet-talking the now-lonely and bereft cheerleader.

Staying at mom and dad’s
And naturally, since this is high school, everyone is still living at home – even though they wish they were moving to L.A. and making it big in movies. Sure sucks to be at home:

I’m presently living with my parents in Connecticut until I can get back on my feet.

World-famous in Poughkeepsie
The world may be an oyster, or an oyster the world. In high school, it’s high school. Apparently in the blogosphere it is no different.

Earth to blogosphere: no one else knows. No one else cares.

It will end, won’t it?
Ahhh … enough of the dirty laundry.

The best thing about high school is that like all school, indeed all things, it ends.

And so, hopefully, will this far-too-public childish spat.


[tags] rocketboom, amanda congdon, andrew baron, unboomed, techcrunch, scripting news, high school, blogosphere, john koetsier [/tags]

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • You make some interesting points about the juvenile nature of the whole episode. It gets pretty boring after a while.
    What caught my attention reading your post though was tremendously lack of contrast of the typography on your page (at least with Firefox on Windows). Yikes man, light gray on white?! You may want to check back with some of those Nielsen usability guidelines; I think easy-to-read text is high on the list.

  • Hrm … I use Flock, which is Firefox-based, and it looks pretty high-contrast to me. I have been thinking of re-doing the templates, though …

  • I covered the blogosphere smack downs on my blog last year (, and as juvenile as the fights are, c’mon, aren’t we allowed a few guilty pleasures 🙂

    Let’s face it — high-school or otherwise, the media (MSM or blogs) love to create idols and then tear them down; the blogosphere is no different and I don’t see this dying down anytime soon.

    BTW, loved your post.

  • Wired News copies Marketing Nirvana!…

    Well — or great minds think alike, either way, I’m thrilled!
    Wired News, one of my favorite tech websites, had a post yesterday on the Best Blogfights of 2006 (via Steve Rubel) which seems a close adaptation of two posts I wrote last year: