Calling Bullshit (from June 7, 1997)

From June 7, 1997: (

Someone told me after the lost-world hoax debacle, “Who the hell are you? To be calling Bullshit on Universal and CNN?”This raises two important lessons. The first is regarding he power of the “published” word. The second is the power of the Internet to publish.

The published word makes all the difference in the world. When the lost-world was being slammed on the wwwac list, no one paid much attention. The words were printed in emails to the list and distributed, but the format was not published. It was off the record.When an opinion was printed in a published format, like Beta, it took on the power of the press. All of the sudden, it wasn’t an off the cuff remark. It was published news. There became a major difference. This came as a shock to me. I thought that this column was less powerful than that, more opinion than reporting.

On the second lesson learned, the Internet made all of this possible. I understood this in an esoteric way, but it never really sank in. Every man or woman with a computer and modem can learn HTML and put up a Website. It might not be polished or insightful, but the fact is: When it goes up on the Web, it becomes published. I used to take this lightly. Every HTML page we have ever written is an internationally published document which can be read, quoted and reported, just like traditional newspapers or TV news.

So who the hell am I? I’m a publisher. With the internet he little guy has more power to call BULLSHIT! on the largest corporations and have people take him/her seriously. The Web empowers us in a real, tangible way. I never thought that I could call Bullshit on the lost-world and people would care. But it happened.

These lessons have been around for years. But they opened my eyes a little wider this week. “Who the hell am I” is damn right!

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