Friday, July 17, 2009

You Probably Believe We've Landed on the Moon, too

Don't believe everything you read. There's an insightful behind the scenes exposé on DeepChip about a technology web site that turns out to be a marketing venue for a group of EDA start-ups. Nothing wrong with that, but the disclosure of who's behind it took some digging and questioning to tease out.

Of course, one would be naive to assume this doesn't happen elsewhere in the media. Even Mr. Cooley's beloved DeepChip, with its purported user-generated content, can be gamed. When you read a glowing endorsement of an EDA tool, ask yourself questions such as

  • Who wrote this? Are they "anon"?
  • Did they really write it? Or could it have been "ghost written" by the EDA vendor and submitted in the customer's name?
  • What is the author's interest in the vendor? Does the author's company have a financial or other interest in the vendor's success?

Nothing beats the testimonial of someone you know and trust, other than your own hands-on evaluation.

p.s. in honor of Apollo 11's 40th anniversary, read more about Apollo Moon landing hoax conspiracy theories .

3 comments:

Sean Murphy said...

John, there is an e-mail account gayatri.japa@indiatimes.com but indiatimes.com offers free e-mail accounts. It's like Hotmail or Gmail (see http://r1.indiatimes.com/signin.aspx to sign up for your own account). I don't believe that Gayatri Japa actually works for the India Times. How would you feel about the comment if it was from Anonymous.Poster@HotMail.com? Because that's effectively what it is.

The bloggers on Techguri, by way of contrast, used their real names and their real affiliations. And if you looked at the site when it was launched it was clear it was created by Cayenne Communications, a PR firm. I don't see the deception, or least the need for such a spirited attack.

For clarity: Apache is not a client and I have no business affiliation with Cayenne.

sandeep said...

Good find John. Its all about reasonable disclosure - even Slashdot stories which reference VA Linux or OSDN (parent companies) are accompanied by suitable qualifiers.

If blogs are to be taken seriously as a source of news and opinion, they have to be subject to the same disclosure guidelines that newspapers put them selves through.
And this does not mean, doing a graph traversal through the writers/owners list and arriving at the sponsors' list.

When the About page steers clear about the sponsor names, even though the companies may have best intentions at heart, the lowly EDA engineer considers it as non-too-suble subterfuge.

Anonymous said...

Good observation about deepchip. Some of the entries there are definitely written by sales AE of the EDA vendor. The style, language and sheer length of the post seem so similar for many posts about the same company. Also a true user site should never be moderated. In this era of forums and message boards you can not have an email based moderated system as a true user forum.