The problem with the Internet these days? In a word: socialism.
No, not that faux Obama socialism certain people like to rail against (because they've got to be PO'd about something). I'm talking about the real scourge of the net: social media.
[ Also on InfoWorld: According to Cringely, microblogging has taken a turn, now that Twitter isn't just for narcissists anymore. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]
Now, I use social media and I (mostly) like social media. I use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn on a semi-regular basis -- sometimes a bit too semi-regular. (When my editor asks why a blog post is late I just tell her I've been drinking -- I don't want her to know I've really been wasting all my time on Facebook.) I've even dabbled a bit on MySpace, Friendfeed, Plurk, Bebo, and so on just to keep my hand in.
But I think I've hit social media overload, and I can't believe I'm the only one. We've all gone off on a tweeting-updating-linking-liking bender, and it may be time for an intervention.
Just this week, Time.com published a story about a freak tornado hitting Brooklyn, complete with an amazing photo of the twister swirling perilously close to the Statue of Liberty. Time blogger Steven Jay Snyder found the photo via Twitter and breathlessly posted it to the Time NewsFeed ("What's vital and viral on the Web, in real time").
Yes, a freak storm really did hit NYC this week. And yes, the photo was real. Unfortunately for Time.com, it was taken on July 7, 1976 -- possibly spawned by that massive bicentennial fireworks display. One can safely assume that storm has passed.
How does a respected media site get duped like this? Because the pressure to publish first and ask questions later is overwhelming. The Web rewards speed over accuracy every single time, and Twitter updates are about as fast as it gets on the Net.