Ben Ward

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Spare a thought for poor Owen Thomas, the beleaguered professional troll whose gossip rag Valleywag was shut down recently; his role downsized into writing a section of the same name for the larger and less disrespected Gawker blog. A shock to Valley investors everywhere, it transpires that in an advertising recession the first sites to go are in fact the ones which provide no value.

Gone are his days of writing about the sometimes-almost-mildly-controversial lives and holiday plans of my friends in San Francisco, he’s instead being forced to focus on bigger fish. That is, real public figures that the Gawker readership have heard of and care about.

The thing is, whilst Valleywag’s content was reliably a link-baiting personal attack in some way, it usually made some sense; that is, the trolling negativity and whatever triviality was being reported would correlate somehow. In the new Gawkerfied version, the posts are completely nonsensical.

Here’s a suggestion for the Obamans: Stop whining about the tools taxpayers have paid for, and get to work learning how to cope with what your employer gives you, just like the rest of us.

Take a story on the productivity-killing IT enforcements of legacy technology in The White House. Barack Obama’s tech-savvy minions have just moved in, and they’re losing their Apple Macs and Facebook access. It’s a dangerously newsworthy piece, which I suspect puts Owen right out of his depth. His eventual attack is not on an outdated, bloated, inagile federal bureaucracy who fail to keep their IT policies at pace with technological change, but instead he trolls on the productivity minded, socially adept team who suffer for it. They’re whiners, because rather than fight a system that’s inefficient, they should just bend over and take it, changing the way they work to suit whatever the status quo is.

Perhaps not dissimilar to a writer struggling to completely change his style and direction to appease a boss that let him keep his job.

Of course, it couldn’t happen to more deserving guy; when I say ‘spare a thought for Owen Thomas’, I actually mean ‘spit in his face’.

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