Barney's Rubble

Web Morons and Buffoons

The Internet is full of blowhards, but sometimes they're just...misunderstood.

In the '80s one of the most hated men in software was Jim Manzi, CEO of Lotus. He was ruthless, acerbic and put up with no nonsense. I over-prepared for my first interview with Manzi. I was at Computerworld and had a whole hour, so I came up with about 50 questions. Then I got stuck in traffic and showed up half an hour late, sweating bullets.

Most of my queries required a narrative answer but Manzi turned them into yes and no questions. I was out of questions 10 minutes in and forced to improvise. I got Manzi-ed.

But I stuck with the guy, got lots more interviews, and -- eventually -- he was asking me questions because he knew how close to his customers I was.

I kept hearing what a jerk the guy was, but when I looked around at all my best friends, they were jerks, too. And the best reporters -- those who knew what they were talking about -- all loved the guy.

It was with this mindset that I approached an article listing the top 10 Web blowhards recently put together by PC World. I half expected some real idiots, but as it turns out, I either know these buffoons and blowhards personally or are fans of their work.

Here's my short take:

John Dvorak: I'm not sure of his stature now, but back in the day Dvorak was the king of computer columnists. He ran rumors and gave insight, all with a breezy sort of bluster. Is he full of himself? Probably. Does he deserve his popularity? Absolutely.

Paul Thurrott: Thurrott has his own Web site and writes for Windows IT Pro, one of my direct competitors. That means I'm not supposed to like him. But here's the reality: Thurrott is a hardworking, highly technical author who occasionally gets into beefs with fellow hardworking, highly technical authors. A buffoon? Please. This guy lives and breathes IT.

David Coursey: I worked with Coursey at InfoWorld, and he was perhaps the most technical reporter on staff -- ever. Coursey has strong opinions and even stronger credentials. And here's a little secret: He's a heckuva nice guy.

Robert Scoble: I never got why Scoble became so famous as a blogger, but the point is he did -- and did it on his own. Calling the highly technical Scoble a blowhard reeks of jealousy.

Who do you love or hate on the Internet? Cast your ballots and let me know at [email protected].

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.


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