Managing the mob

Bambi Francisco Roizen · August 25, 2008 · Short URL:

A response to monkeys with megaphones

 Recently, Seth Godin - author and prolific blogger - wrote a piece titled: Monkeys with megaphones, in which he asked the rhetorical question: "Now that everyone has their own channel, their own newspaper, their own station, it's pretty shocking how low the average has sunk. The question is: will it be so noisy and offensive that the rest of us just tune it out completely?"

This piece reminded me of a post I wrote while I was a journalist at Dow Jones MarketWatch. It was called Managing the mob. In it, I was more wont to control the mob than tune it out. The piece was written in response to some of the inordinate number of comments I used to receive on my Bambi Blog posts, when I was analyzing stocks, such as Google and Yahoo, and, oh writing about religion. In the post, I asked similar rhetorical questions. How does one "control this mob?... How do you manage, organize and measure what is relevant?"

Now, these posts probably refer to two different scenarios. Seth was referring to the increasing amount of information written online, often by a bunch of monkeys. Indeed, when I first started writing about Internet stocks and trends back in 1998, there were a handful of reporters I'd read. Today, there's an overwhelming crop of voices, notably bloggers - who do not check off the box next to "journalist" when they describe their profession. 

In my post written two years ago, I was referring to the inbound replies and rants directed at the writer, and the irrelevant side conversations that happen along the way. These comments are as additive as they are distracting. They help reveal the truth as much as distort it. 

Nonetheless, we both tried, and I guess we're still trying, to understand how to filter information. Seth asked whether we'd eventually tune it out. I asked whether we'd be able to manage it.

I didn't have an answer back then, when I wrote this piece in 2006. But I think Jason Kolb put his finger on it, in his recent post "The size of the network doesn't matter."

"I don't think the answer is that complicated at all," wrote Jason, who wrote in response to Seth's piece. "Doesn't the answer lie in our network of trusted people which is available via social technology?  One of the things that just really doesn't sit well with me is the tendency we have these days of establishing "connections" to anyone and everyone we meet.  It's almost as automatic as a handshake these days.  Your network shouldn't really be "the bigger the better", it should represent the network of people that you trust, and it should be of high quality."

I totally agree. I've always been of this mindset. When I was a journalist full-time, I always made it a point to have a handful of trusted sources - super smart people I could run things by. I touched base with them every week, if not daily. I would call on many to provide data to support my thesis. But it was the trusted few who could influence the direction of my stories.

In like vein, I had applied the same strategy to my LinkedIn profiles. Truth be told, it's been a game. On LinkedIn, the game for me has been to have the least number of connections, but the biggest extended network. My aim was to keep my connections as small as Mike Moritz's (he's at about 25 today, even though his VC firm Sequoia is an investor in LinkedIn!), but amass an extended network as large as Marc Andreessen's. Through Marc's connections and his connections' connections, Marc has an overwhelmingly huge extended network. At one point, LinkedIn made these networks visible. Since I'm connected to Marc, my extended network is big, even though I have far fewer connections. The strategy? Connect with people with significantly large connections to people with significantly large connections. Today, I have 57 connections, twice as many as Mike Moritz, but about two-thirds of Jason's. But my reach is huge!

At VatorNews, I'm hoping to do the same - gather the essays and opinions of those I believe are of high quality. Essentially, I'm managing the mob by curating insightful writers whose words I believe will or are already resonating with many.

As for the inbound comments. Well, I've tuned them out. As Twitter CEO and co-founder says of the information on the Web, it's part of the "ambient noise."

(Image source:

Image Description

Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

All author posts

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs


Seth Godin

Joined Vator on