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caveat > noun: a warning or proviso of specific conditions. -ORIGIN Latin, ‘let a person beware’.

Controversy about blogging swirls around the new book Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday (2012). The author, now director of marketing for a large clothing company, writes an exposé explaining how he uses outrageous gambits to manipulate and deceive even the largest and most professional media outlets.

In the information age, fake controversies all too often become “newsworthy” for mainstream media because of their increasing reliance on blogs for guidance to the latest “breaking news.”

In this light, Holiday outlines various strategies, including how he promoted one client by buying billboard space to promote a project, deliberately defaced it himself, and then sent photos of his handiwork to blogs that feed on controversy. From there it was rather easy to post similarly outrageous comments on the blogs that commented on the photo, create a faux anti-client Facebook page, and to tweet bogus outrage to generate heightened attention through Internet “trending” reports. Such counterfeit Internet activity now quickly overflows onto mainstream media front pages and nightly news broadcasts. Rarely, if ever, are lies like this corrected.

All of this seems to be unbelievably simple to accomplish. Given the state of the blogosphere that to a significant degree is driven by page view advertising revenues, according to Holidy, some bloggers pay little or no attention to journalistic standards or ethics. Instead, they focus on their need for notoriety in order to make money. Consequently, Holiday argues that “blogs are destroying modern journalism.”

My first introduction to this book was from the CBC Radio One cultural affairs programme Q With Jiam Ghomeshi. Guest host Stephen Quinn’s revealing interview with author Ryan Holiday on 13 August 2012 can be heard at http://www.cbc.ca/q/blog/2012/08/13/ryan-holiday-on-q/ .

Also see a brief 30 July 2012 review of this book on Huff Post Media The Blog by Ron Church http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-church/ryan-holiday-trust-me-im-lying_b_1715524.html .

This Solving Task Saturation for Museum Workers blog does not run advertisements. I do my best to document and fact check my arguments as fully as possible.

After learning about Ryan Holiday’s Trust Me, I Am Lying, however, I do encourage followers to read with your critical faculties engaged–just as you should do for all mainstream media and blogs that are platforms for advertising.

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, trust me, I am not advertising here!

References Cited:

Holiday, Ryan (2012) Trust Me, I Am Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, New York: The Penguin Group.