Fame, Feeds, and an Apology to Matt Blumberg

Something happened recently that illustrates the perils of non-unified messaging:

On Friday, my fellow MyWay blogger Matt Blumberg blogged about the TED conference. I commented on his post, then turned my comment into a full post on this blog.

Matt replied to my comment via email, and he and I exchanged a few more emails that night clarifying what he meant and setting up an in person meeting the next time we were to be in the same city.

On Monday, Matt picked up my post, and because of the asynchronicity of our communications, thought that I had written my post AFTER our email conversation, and thus had willfully ignored his email clarifications to beat on him like a vicious 8-year-old attacking a pinata. And while I wrote back telling him that I didn’t mean to be harsh, I didn’t pick up on his misapprehension about the timing of my post, and thus didn’t clarify the timing.

In response, Matt wrote his own post clarifying his original post, saying, “I think Chris missed my main point, and since he decided to go public blasting me, I’ll repeat here what I emailed him privately before he decided to blog this.”

Now, of course, I find myself in the bind of how to respond. I certainly didn’t mean to insult Matt to begin with. I could respond via email, but that would leave Matt’s blog readers with the impression that I was a first-class jerk. I could comment on Matt’s blog, but that wouldn’t clarify matters for the folks who read the post before I could comment, or for the folks who picked it up via RSS reader and didn’t bother checking out the comments.

In the end, as nutty as it might seem, I concluded that the best thing I could do was to issue my own post clarifying the matter, and in turn, ask Matt to post his clarification of my clarification of the misunderstanding that occurred when Matt thought my post came after his private clarification of my comment on his original post.

See? Easy as pie!

And so: Matt, I’m sorry that we had this misunderstanding about the timing of our posts, emails, and comments. I didn’t mean to offend or hurt your feelings, and had I known what you meant to say in your original post before I blogged, I probably would have toned down the tenor of my post (though I still stand behind my main point on fame).

Sometimes, we who blog are in such a rush to get our words out into the public eye that we don’t stop to think about whether or not what we write might unintentionally hurt someone. And this post, which illustrates the incredible effort it takes to correct even a minor misunderstanding, just underscores the potential costs of our tangled web of communications.

5 thoughts on “Fame, Feeds, and an Apology to Matt Blumberg

  1. Anonymous

    All is forgiven! Look forward to seeing you in a couple weeks. An interesting lesson in the perils of this kind of dialog, especially since few people really read blog comments. Let me know if you think I should blog your response. 🙂


  2. Matt,

    I think you should blog the response, if only for the ability to use this phrase:

    “So in the interests of clarity, I decided to blog my response to Chris’ second post, which was a clarification of the misunderstanding that took place after I read his first post without realizing that it didn’t reflect the original clarification of my post that I initiated after his initial comment on my original post.”

    Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know’s on third!

  3. I’ve been to more than one TED conference and continue to be completely in awe of the people attending. Whether they’re rock stars (literally), scientists, physicians, biologists, government leaders, politicians, or regular people like me – I’ll continue to be impressed. Heck – who doesn’t get a thrill seeing a famous movie star. I got to meet a favorite of mine, Forest Whitaker, at TED2007. So did my wife and daughter. Sorry, but that’s just cool. And why not be super-impressed with these folks – and the mega stars that attend like Clinton, Page, Brin, Rosling, Gabriel… they’re all very, very accomplished in their fields. I’m generally impressed with people that rise to the tops of their profession – no matter what that professional is. Yeah, they put their pants on “one leg at a time” like you and me. But they also do things a vast majority of people don’t or can’t do.

  4. David,

    I’m down with respecting the rich and famous for their accomplishments. I’m just not into treating them like they’re a totally different breed.

    Nor do I believe that being famous and accomplished in one area has any relevance to an unrelated area. Frankly, Cameron Diaz’ opinion on global warming is no more interesting to me than the opinion of the homeless guy at the bus station.

    The time I met George Clooney, what impressed me was not his looks or his acting ability, but how gracious he was to my mom. “You have beautiful eyes, Mrs. Yeh,” he told her.

    “You must have been drinking,” she replied.

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