There’s always something to howl about

The All-Spin Zone: The big news from the Inman News relaunch is that much of the is now in bed with Brad Inman

I had mail from a vendor just lately asking me if I might be interested in a forthcoming story. This was my reply:

Just so as not to disappoint, this is the way we work:

Good for consumers, agents or lenders, we eat it up.

Good for the vendor, we ignore it.

I should think this would be obvious, but much of the has gone into pure PR mode — more high-fives than your kid’s soccer match — so I just wanted to be clear.

As evidence of this phenomenon, witness the fawning coverage for Inman News’ relaunch this weekend. For all the hype, what actually happened was that they moved the furniture, and gave everything a coat of paint — hardly earth-shaking events.

Interestingly, it’s still a for-pay site, but, as far as I can tell, the “news” is now free. Here’s an unencrypted telegram from Secret Agent Slobbering Dog to Brad Inman: Regulating access to the news was the chokepoint. No one should pay for ordinary information — mostly regurgitated vendor press releases, just like Realtor magazine. But no sane person has any reason to pay a hundred-and-fifty bucks a year for an official Inman News sippee cup.

Of course, while everyone else was fawning over that boffo furniture-moving job, we were talking about strangling the last of the chokepoints in the twenty-first century marketplace. Oddly enough, we have the idea that what is important is what is important to you — not to the people we have drinks with — or hope someday to have drinks with.

My take is that people can crave affection or admiration or companionship entirely too much. The same goes for prestige. What makes real weblogging work — and what makes most corporate or commercial or vendor blogging fail — comes down to spin, juice, PR. You either shun it or you embrace it, and there really isn’t any middle ground. It’s a nice thing that Inman News did a little sweeping up. But that ain’t news.

On the other hand, there is ample room in these events to draw inferences. BloodhoundBlog has nothing to gain or lose. I set it up that way. We don’t take advertising, and we don’t have an affiliate program or a membership plan. We — or at least I — don’t care who loves or hates us, and I warned everyone a long time ago, not once but twice, about the corrosive seductions of so-called “prestige.”

A whole lot of real estate webloggers — many of them vendors — got into bed with Brad Inman this weekend. This doesn’t make them bad people, and it does not imply that they are writhing helplessly under Inman’s thick thumb. “But glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity.” It’s never wise to want something that someone else has the power to take away. The webloggers involved are, in actual fact, lending their prestige to Brad Inman, not the other way around. If they lose sight of that, preferring instead to do whatever it takes to sustain their status as big fish in a stagnant backwater, that would be tragic.

In the mean time, who are you going to turn to for news you can trust? The answer is obvious. We learned the hard way not to make these kinds of deals. The upshot is, we can shoot our mouths off however we choose.

Like this: The Inman News relaunch? Big snooze. Painfully pale to look at, most-likely-to-fail as a social site — and the pay-for-intangibles business plan is absurd.

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