Thursday, December 08, 2005

Blog Spotlight: Digital Rules

Rich Karlgaard is the publisher of Forbes Magazine. It is currently read by over 4.5 million people per issue, making it the most popular business and financial magazine. He is an entrepreneur (co-founded two companies and a civic organization), a lecturer, and a licensed pilot.

But for the past two months, he has been a blogger. He maintains a daily weblog called "Digital Rules" on His entries appear in Forbes among articles by Steve Forbes and Caspar Weinberger, former Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration and publisher/chairman of Forbes.

Karlgaard identifies as a "pro-technology supply-sider" meaning:
I think Moore's Law and Say's Law drive growth and prosperity in the world.
His blog and the entries he posts on it cover topics like technology and the economy, as one would expect. What makes his writing great is that he writes from experience and he writes about the real world. His posts are fun, but they almost always teach you something useful.

He recently wrote an article for Forbes on his time as a blogger. Much to my satisfaction, and saying exactly what I would've expected, he believes that "blogging is not overhyped." He talks about the threat they pose to the mainstream media. However, he also believes that blogs do not threaten businesses (or rather, good businesses). He believes that if companies do good things, bloggers will write positively about them. But if they fight with, or try to deceive their customers, bloggers will eat them for breakfast. He uses this as an example:

Bad companies and shady dealers will get their heads handed to them in the blogosphere. We all say hooray to that! But be aware. The slow and stubborn--those I call the institutionally stupid in my blog--will get slaughtered, too.

An example of institutional stupidity from a world I inhabit--small airplanes. Only two engine manufacturers serve this market. One is reasonably forward-looking; the other is so stubborn it fights with its own customers over how to operate the engines. In the old days the owner-pilot was easily cowed by the manufacturer. The manufacturer was a god. Authority figures of all kinds were gods. Not anymore.

Here's what happened. A little engine repair shop in Oklahoma built a test bed, linked it to computers and proved that the aircraft-engine manufacturer's recommended method of operation wasted fuel and overheated the engine. These data traveled along the Web and became points of fierce debate on message boards and blogs. The manufacturer finally stepped into the debate and said its method was correct. Anything more you'd like to add, Mr. Engine Manufacturer? "Well, no, it's our data, and it's proprietary."

I highly recommend Mr. Karlgaard's blog as daily reading. His posts are insightful and tend to look at the bright side of things, which is always a good thing. His blog is:

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