Skip to content

RedMonk as a Case on The Gillmor Gang, Finding a New Word

I’ve been a long time listener of The Gillmor Gang (since the IT Conversation days). It was always exciting to hear my friends at RedMonk mentioned, and now it’s even more exciting to hear my company, RedMonk, mentioned. In the most recent episode, Steve goes full-hog with using RedMonk as an example of the new, mixed up role of reporter/blogger/analyst. He had good comments on Steve’s and Jame’s coverage of the recent Sun Analyst conference (which reminds me, we need to start posting summary/roll-up posts that aggregate similar posts together: it makes it easier to link to everything instead of just picking out one or two posts).

Blurring Roles, Same Access

Gillmor’s point — if I’ve unwound his French philosopher style correctly — is that the role of the reporter, blogger, and industry analyst in the tech world has begun to blur. Or, at least, that it has the potential to unravel the monied interest in keeping those roles separate.

One of the many things I’m excited about in the new job is bringing fresh eyes and historically unbiased thinking (until now, I haven’t had a dog in the fight) to these kinds of topics. As a “prolific blogger” and podcaster, those roles are already completely erased in my mind. Indeed, I’ve conflated all those roles so much that my problem is not so much figuring out what each role does, but figuring out where the lines are drawn.

What’s left to be sorted out, as Steve pointed out, is access. In the traditional mind-set, each of those roles has different levels of access to the information and different roles they play with that access.


While analysts certainly can get “share this with the world” access, their access can also be highly controlled, e.g., with NDAs and repeated reminders that “all this is secret, we can’t stress that enough. Don’t tell anyone, OK?” Companies want to get advice from analyst, and use them to help prepare for their strategy and public messaging: you can’t have your consigliere running to the enemy. Of course, companies also want analysts to be sneezers, spreading information about companies and customers among all the corporate silos.

On the other hand, we have the mantle of analyst which lets us run our mouths (or fingers, as it were) on any topic, shouting out a virtual “analyst out, fools!”, dropping the mic as we walk off-stage. Our goal, of course, is say smart, helpful things when doing said jaw and hand running, but the only guarantee is our reputation. There aren’t any certifications of “press passes” in the analyst biz.

(This, of course, is after only 2 1/2 days of playing the role of an analyst. I’ll be sure to fill you in as my experience further defines the role for me, and hopefully, vice versa, as I define the role. It’ll be a good application of open-source analysis ;>)


Reporters, of course, have whatever access they can weasel into; and I mean “weasel” in the most respective way. They’re supposed to be invited to “media events” and, most importantly, they have an expense account, meaning they can travel to where the information is.

At least, that’s the image I have. In my overly imaginative mind, all reporters wear felt hats and run around shaking their notepad, saying things like, “I’d stake my Pulitzer on it!”.

The Secret About Bloggers

Bloggers are at the bottom of the food-chain. Aside from a few exceptions (like the DNC, RNC, MSFT, and Yahoo!), most companies could give a damn about bloggers. Sure, companies don’t want bloggers to throw out fire-bombs like the Sony/BMG rootkit or the Kryptonite. But, as those two examples show, it’s only the “small” companies that can be taken down: we’ve yet to see a mega-company Enron-tanked by a blogger.

More importantly, bloggers aren’t regularly given access, except under the cover of one of the above two roles. That’s the secret to the whole thing: bloggers are given access, they’re just masquerading as something else.

Wear the Hat that Fits

To bring the navel gazing down even further, take myself as example. Among the larger hats I wear is the blogger hat. The same is true for my colleagues Steve and James. But we three have other large hats we swap in and out of as needed. Indeed, it’s often best to wear all the hats at the same time, though it tends to look funny…at the moment.

More importantly, as I’ve noted before, an “expert” without a weblog is fast becoming an paradox. That is, you need a weblog to seem “real” if you’re a word- and opinion-slinger.

A Better Label

What this means, then, is that the first two, traditional roles, are becoming sub-sets of the last, more scrappy role. “Blogger” is a pretty crappy word for that abstract role; Paul Graham suggestion of “writer” is still even too narrow; getting back to Gillmor, the phrase “InfoRouter” is always interesting. But, I’ve yet to come across the name that zings. Any ideas?

Categories: Blogs, The Analyst Life, The New Thing.