Some people are born reviewers. Some others are born collectors and clearinghouses of news; the headline hunters.
Being a great reviewer does not give you access to the latest and breaking news. Being a clearinghouse for the latest news definitely does not give you the position of a trusted reviewer who has looked at the product/story/idea/technology from all angles and can quickly compare it to other similar products and give an unbiased review.
Scoble is good at being a clearinghouse of news. You can tap on his shoulder and find out whats going on where. Who’s new. Who’s news. Who’s not. And he knows this. He responds to such queries in a natural way. Mike Arrington does a better job of the same. If it’s new … these guys will be informed. Their addiction to the latest and greatest makes them a beacon for other to follow. If they talk about something, it’s most probably soo new that traditional news media hasn’t heard about it yet.
The job of a reviewer is way too important to be left in the hands of a supercharged journalist.
Walt Mossberg is a great reviewer and commentator on the technologies and products themselves. Dvorak is better at it. As is Peter Coffee. These guys have years of experience, can recall a dozen times when they knew a feature was going to work or not. They can find the hidden-agendas. They can discover the unknown problem spots. You want guys like these to look under the hood. Kick the tires. They take the product on a long trip to make sure it’s not just a fad.
Very few people can combine both these traits. Om Malik does. He will dish out news thats not even on the press. He will also research and add the right notes and make the news not just a headline but an article.
I can think of a few others. InfoSyncWorld’s Jørgen Sundgot comes to mind with his breaking news on new mobiles and very factual (and critically potent) reviews of them. Sometimes, the Engadget and Gizmondo teams actually have intellectually simulating previews/reviews together with product launch news.
What prompted me to write something about all of this?
It all started over the last few weeks as I read some of my favourite blogs and realized that people were starting to take Scoble’s and Arrington’s words for reviews. This isn’t right. These guys are primarily a means for us to get to know about new things, new products and services on the web. We have to look elsewhere for actual reviews of these products and services. We cannot have jkOnTheRun making comments like “Arrington appears unimpressed“. I honestly don’t care what Arrington thinks of things. I use TechCrunch only to read the first 2 sentences of most posts. This gives me the links to the newest and slickest websites to look at. How I react to them is not dependent on what Mike thinks of them.
On the other hand, when Om Malik writes about a new website/product on his blog, I read the entire article before I make up my mind if I want to follow the link at all. It’s just a matter of checking the credentials of your guide before you start the tour.
Same thing with blogs like Dead 2.0. This guy is a genius critic. Along the lines of Coding Horror and causticTech. I read their stories and get a better idea of why things happened and what might have happened if the developers thought differently. I don’t just like the negative ones. Even JoelOnSoftware does a great job of laying it out as it is.