James Governor's Monkchips

Analyst Spoon Feeding: Why I Respect Jeremiah Owyang

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One of my worst traits is an assumption that everyone is already up to speed on any given subject. I tend to think fast, learn fast, move on fast, and of course talk fast. For a long time I have watched Jeremiah Owyang and been impressed with his willingness to slow down a little bit, digest things, and help his community digest them. Particularly in an area such as social networking its easy to expect everyone to know what a tweet is, or a poke or whatever. But in the real world people like basic, unpatronising How To guides. Crossing the chasm requires explorers and orienteers, sure, but it also requires sherpas, pack horses, base stations and so on. We’re climbing a mountain here. I think Jeremiah does a mighty fine job of helping the market up that hill. Not everyone is an edge case. Not everybody read and started living the Cluetrain when it first written. [there I go again- some of you don’t know what the hell the Cluetrain is].

Recently friend of RedMonk David Churbuck of Lenovo called out Owyang complaining that he was “stating the obvious”.

“let’s step up the analysis and look at the hard questions, not the thumbsuckers”

I think that’s somewhat unfair. I would say Owyang writes for the mainstream. I don’t know who David is talking to but the idea that everyone in the industry is now happy to say good things about their competitors just isn’t true. There is plenty of nasty, small-minded, short-sighted, thinking going on out there. David uses the phrase in the trenches- the truth is its still often war out there. For every few that get it, many do not.

Jeremiah responded in just the right way, offering Churbuck a guest post. This is definitely worth reading because it gets specific about the challenges of being a change agent, responding to customer complaints as a blogger, and potentially impacting company policy in the process. Definitely an excellent question for any business looking to open up a bit and use blogging to humanise customer services.

But I think both styles have an important role to play. Churbuck is an edge case. Owyang writes for the mainstream. They both do a great job. I suggest you follow both.


  1. Wow James, this is really tremendous. Thank you so much for watching, analyzing, and commenting on this. It’s really great to be recognized by a peer like this.

    You’ve really made my week!

  2. dude. you’re writing the book. like i said before I think your focus in extremely valuable to Forrester, but more importantly to its customers and community generally. Obviously you lack the credibility that a really good chinpose would give you, but that’s eminently fixable. seriously have an awesome weekend, you deserve it.

  3. Chinpose coming next week, I haven’t put on my makeup yet!

  4. James
    Good post. I wasn’t griefing on Jeremiah so much as the legions of Social Media pundits who are starting to sounds like cuckoo clocks — sounding the same call on the hour.

    Calling out corporations or traditional media for being hidebound, oneway, missing the cluetrain, insular, artificial …. we get it. Point made in 2004. Let’s move onto to the fun stuff.

    And if you dig into Jeremiah’s archives you’ll find a wealth of expertise that goes far and beyond the norm into some very very hairystuff. His recent primers on open social stand as biblical in my book.

  5. Holy Geez, did I just get a gold star from David? I’m beaming!

    For those that want to join in the next phases, David has suggested some advanced topics to tackle. I’m mulling a few of them over in the head. Will be a fun public discussion.

    See his early Christmas wish list here:


  6. watta circle jerk!

  7. Again, I’d like less of the analysis-of-analysts and more analyzing technology. Indeed, there is no longer an article (beyond just links) about actual technology topics on the front page.

    More on-topic, some of the best analysis spells out what faddish terms actually mean — in a way that reveals more about what is going on.

    For example: “Crossing the chasm requires explorers and orienteers, sure, but it also requires sherpas, pack horses, base stations and so on. We’re climbing a mountain here.” would be more interesting if you had spelled it out. Not because people don’t know the chasm cliche, but because they know it so well they have stopped thinking about the underlying meaning.

    Indeed, in your analogy, it sounds like simpler analysis is something that is some kind of gateway or complementary or enabling offering to more advanced analysis. (Getting to the top requires not just the ice axe in your hand, but the complementary good of the pack horse still back at base camp )

    But that is actually subtly different from the standard what-is-required-to-cross-the-chasm point, which would be so note that the analysis product that catches on with early adopters will be different than the one that catches on with the mainstream.

    Anyway, I’m breaking no new ground by saying analogies are campy and often not penetrating. (See Shapiro & Varian’s great introduction to Information Rules, in which they debunk the usefulness of nifty analogies and checklists for obscuring the fundamental principles).

    But please, again, back to our regularly scheduled program of analyzing the technology industry instead of analyzing the analysis industry.

  8. thanks for the feedback Chris. As a regular reader of Monkchips you obviously know I have always looked at my business sector, and written about it. I noted your recent comment on Workday Cape Clear, and am still considering it. Frankly there were more important tech stories I should have covered at the time. I have been thinking about your request/statement that we’re in some sense a “Journal of Record”.

    Regarding your pushback regarding crossing the chasm, note that the articles in question we’re talking about technology, but policy issues, which frankly not enough analysts talk to. Not everything in tech is a product decision. I am certainly not going to apologise for using analogies and metaphors. They are necessary rhetorical devices in framing debates.

  9. No worries, amigo. On re-reading my comment, I hit that a lot harder than I meant to.

    I have switched back to decaf.


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