The IT Web “Skills Gap” article that becomes an OptimalJ advertisement has renewed discussion of credibility in technology journalism. While Gartner, Forrester, Yankee, etc. have been taking money from software companies for years for “coverage” in reports, then turning around and quoting them in other “analytical” articles, this chicanery has previously been targeted at management.
Recently, however, this practice seems be a growing part of software companies’ marketing plans, with articles, presentations, and studies targeted squarely at the developer, and deceptively positioned as information about a general topic. Since this seems to be a growing, pervasive trend, I find my self needing a succinct way of describing this propaganda. I propose that we describe such content as “spinformation”, since it takes a generally informational topic in order to hook the reader, then proceeds to twist it into a product advertisement.
Prime Spinformation Examples:
- TSS “Productivity Case Study” [OptimalJ Sponsored]
- OrlandoJUG Java Web Services Security [BEA Tutorial]
- Refactoring, or TogetherSoft Ad?
- J2EE/.NET Performance Comparison [Microsoft sponsored]
- JDJ Readers’ Choice Awards
- The TSS Parade of product announcements
It’s trivial to find more examples, but feel free to chime in with your own examples of spinformation. While I don’t like advertising, it’s not a huge problem as long as you don’t try and dupe me. If the local JUG meeting is titled “Java Persistence Problems and Solutions”, and turns out to be a hype-session for a proprietary tool, I have a beef with that. If you call the session “Java Persistence Solved with XXXXXX”, that’s fine – if I’m interested, I’ll show up, and I’ll know you’re going to tell me about the tool. It’s the spinformation bait-and-switch that gets me. Don’t pretend to address a general topic and then use it as a pretense to hype a specific solution.