Attack of the Disinformation Professionals

June 27, 2007 § 1 Comment

Interesting interview with Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, one of the most successful local sites ever. The interviewer is David Weinberger, author of “Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder” (haven’t read it yet — I did watch the movie though… why didn’t a librarian write this book?!). Craig always seems very genuine and frank and short-winded — the questions are often longer than his answers.

Craig describes how he “had the blessing of very limited resources” when he started Craigslist and attributes the site’s (and Wikipedia’s) success to letting the services get “built by the people who use them” and not fearing “unintended consequences” or “being attacked by disinformation professionals.” He concludes that his “strategy is to get out of the way when something good happens.”

Libraries are certainly familiar with operating with limited resources, but we are still very much in the getting-to-know-you stage of letting go and letting users (patrons) contribute and help create the services we provide. The interview is worth a listen, especially as libraries (attempt to) adopt some of the strategies that Craigslist exemplifies. Oh, it’s also fun to kill a few minutes mining best-of-craigslist… for little gems like this one (NOTE: many of the other ads on the list contain vulgar material… those darn disinformation professionals!).

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