I received an email from someone I don’t know this morning who said “I am a fellow blogger in the training and e-learning industry. I thought you would be interested in sharing with your readers…” and proceeded to tell me about a new intiative. The concept wasn’t bad, albeit old, but she somehow forgot to mention that she was married to the co-founder of the thing. In essence it’s a listserv that they have the cheek to want to charge for membership. Heck, you can do the same thing for free in Yahoo groups or any number of places! For example, ITFORUM has been happily running very good listserve on instructional technology for years, and it’s free.
I can’t imagine how this person thought this was a viable approach, essentially insulting the intelligence of the intended audience. The point of the Cluetrain Manifesto was that with the internet, information could be shared more quickly, and credibility would be everything because you’d be found out too quickly otherwise. Well, this person, and this initiative, violate that constraint.
I get grumpy at anyone who sends me those junk letters about so-and-so’s dying wish and hasn’t bothered to check it out with Snopes (the urban legend site) first. Guess this person figured I wouldn’t bother connecting the dots. However, when you’ve been on the internet as long as I have (I did my first elearning project in 1979, back when it was ARPANET), you get skeptical. My advice, be skeptical, check things out, and beware hype. And if you’re looking for publicity, add value, don’t blow smoke. Caveat emptor!