The Schwag Set

Newsweek has lowdown on something called the Silicon Valley 100, which is like this really exclusive group which will get a lot of schwag from companies hoping to create buzz around specific products. This will include venture capitalists, lawyers and bloggers as well. Auren Hoffman has set up this group, which is like the jet set society of the late 1980s. His idea is if thee people recommend it, well then others are going to buy it. The connector concept – you know sort of like Motorola phones in the hands of Entourage crew or Hip-Top for Snoop Dog. That’s the concept anyway. Included in the list folks like Marc Andressen, Esther Dyson, Chris Shipley, and Ross Mayfield. Hoffman tells Newsweek he avoided adding career bloggers or journalists to the list.

“Those people have a different standard and shouldn’t be keeping free products,” he says (journalists are typically required to return products they sample for review).

Yeah because we will tell him to **** ***! Hey doesn’t Esther put out a newsletter with C/Net – wonder what the ethics policy is there? I think it qualifies her as a journalist!

This is a ridiculous idea in a decentralized media environment where experts in the blog-world are more the influencers than those mentioned in the story. Peter Rojas recommends, well then I am buying it. If Russell Beattie gives the thumbs up, then I am buying it. Further, look at the “connectors” in the real world – i.e. Hollywood. Well, they have E, Access Hollywood and all the tabloids who want to take photos and that’s how the product gets out. HipTop in Paris Hilton’s hand will be seen by millions of Star readers. That’s influence. In this case, Marc, will tell Esther, who will tell Chris…. oh wait they are all part of the same club which breakfasts on granola, champagne and gossip in Atherton. Aka Silicon Valley Feedback Loop. Influence? These guys can influence a few, but not like the Hollywood set.

In Silicon Valley influence means getting access to media, and being quoted in the media and that sort of thing. This list, would make me take everything these people have to say with a big grain of salt. Just a typical reporter reaction – which will make me look for alternate sources. Secondly, I am going to selectively monitor and remove the feeds of some of bloggers-among-the-Schwag-set – if I can’t trust what they say, why bother! Now its not often that I agree with Dan Gillmor, but this time I do, as he writes,

This is oddly creepy. Will the people getting this stuff will routinely tell people they’ve gotten it for free? (Glad to see that Joi Ito says he will…) I hope the people named in this story — some of whom are friends of mine — will decide either to disclose what they’re doing, or bow out of this exercise entirely.

I like the sweet irony of this – the first product being offered is a shitter! What Crap!