A couple of articles we’ve been liking, or puzzling over, these days:
“Behind Closed Dot-Com Doors” keeps warning us that, further along in its own text, we’d hear all about the nitty-gritty of conflicts of interest when a cartel (Johnson & Johnson) buys a content site (BabyCenter) that in fact hadn’t been independent in years. (eToys owned it. And you know what happened to them.) But J.D. Lasica has nothing but good news to report: eToys never interfered, and J&J has no evident desire to do so, either. So what’s the problem? Maybe there is no problem. The story does, however, provide five nuggets of advice for thoroughly disclosing potential conflicts of interest.
We are familiar with the fallacy that adding multimedia to a site makes it “interactive.” (Really? Is your VCR interactive because it give you a Play button?) Well, how about links? Is a site with more links more “interactive”? Who’s got more external links, commercial sites or “not-coms”? The commercial sites, as it turns out. What does it mean? We cannot draw a conclusion from the research report, because it is so disorganized and ill-written as to be incomprehensible. (The author herself: “The study design limits interpretation in some regards.” The study discussion limits understanding in some regards.)
It could be pointed out that the distinction between content and service sites is strong here, with “not-coms” vastly more likely to provide content rather than a service. No surprise that the purpose is reading and understanding, not referral.
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Posted on 2001-03-31