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Orlowski Slams O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference

by Tim O'Reilly
Apr. 23, 2003

I've admired Andrew Orlowski's provocative style of journalism in The Register, but now, having been subjected to one of his flames, I have to say how disappointed I am by the apparent shallowness of his journalism. The article in question details the claims of one potential speaker, purportedly excluded from the conference because he advocates a technology that didn't meet a particular litmus test by social software track chair Clay Shirky.

I was not party to the deliberations about which talks were in and which were out. But I do know from organizing past conferences how hard it is to fit everyone in, and how often would-be speakers claim bias when their talk isn't chosen. So one thing struck me immediately: Orlowski didn't do any real journalism. He got a complaint from a speaker who didn't get included, and made that complaint the basis for a rant. He didn't talk to anyone at O'Reilly. He didn't make any effort to get background or hear the other side. He wrote a flame, not a story.

I now know that Orlowski has defined himself as a gossip columnist, not a real journalist. I had thought better of him. I will take his stories with a heaping dose of salt in future.

I've written to Andrew, asking him to give me a call. Whether he does any more homework on this story or whether he was just taking the opportunity for drive-by controversy in hopes of getting some easy page views will tell us a lot about his motivations and the value of his comments.

Tim O'Reilly is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc., thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. In addition to Foo Camps ("Friends of O'Reilly" Camps, which gave rise to the "un-conference" movement), O'Reilly Media also hosts conferences on technology topics, including the Web 2.0 Summit, the Web 2.0 Expo, the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, the Gov 2.0 Summit, and the Gov 2.0 Expo. Tim's blog, the O'Reilly Radar, "watches the alpha geeks" to determine emerging technology trends, and serves as a platform for advocacy about issues of importance to the technical community. Tim's long-term vision for his company is to change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators. In addition to O'Reilly Media, Tim is a founder of Safari Books Online, a pioneering subscription service for accessing books online, and O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, an early-stage venture firm.

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