Fred made a great point in his blog about how he edits himself. I believe this is something which really needs to be considered when taking the pulse of the industry. I'm travelling this week in the US and have noted to my colleagues that a lot of what is said here is heavily "edited", i.e. there is always an agenda and you may not know what it is. Actually, you probably DON'T know what it is and hence, buyer beware.
We now have so much "access" to people via Facebook, Twitter and their blogs. Many people, myself included, try their best to be transparent. At the same time, in reality, certain things remain unsaid. Let's take the example of VC's. As much as we all are willing to post our thoughts online, we're probably never directly talking about the deal of the moment. We may be indirectly alluding to something we experienced in our day-to-day interactions but the specific details remain in the background as they have to. The market is highly competitive. The same goes for the things people may be posting on Twitter. Mentioning that you're going to some event doesn't necessarily mean "hey, look where I am, come meet me." It likely means "hey, see what I have access to! I'm more important or in demand than you". I've learned to filter the fluff but have to remind myself often to read in between the lines. It's at times when you read into what is being posted that you can best determine what's driving the true agenda.
Unfortunately, I believe we're at a critical point in time in regards to social media and online transparency. So much personal marketing is taking place via these channels that the fluff we were trying to avoid in the real world has crept into the online world. The noise doesn't allow you to really know what's there to be transparent and what's there to further a personal agenda. At the same time, I still believe that you have to be diligent about staying on top of things going on. It's so much easier to figure out how a person ticks by reading their blog posts and Twitter stream. You can easily figure out how they think to some extent and what they are dealing with. Nevertheless, filters for the noise are becoming ever more important.
Just as Gmail has implemented the Priority Inbox to filter spam mails, I believe a great opportunity exists to help filter the noise of social media. On Twitter, you currently have to self-filter by sorting through the people whom you follow. Were you to follow everyone, your Twitter stream would be unmanageable. The same goes for blog posts. I at times feel that there is almost too much out there in regards to certain topics, i.e. fundraising for venture. If you are new to the industry, you really have no idea where to start and whose advice to take. This is where some kind of reputation management is necessary so you can figure out whom to read and whom to filter out. One way or another, there's a lot to be done here!
On a funny side note, I was about to write "if I had the time, this could be at least two blog posts." In reality, I just don't feel like writing two blog posts but you get my drift. One could be about being cautious in regards to what remains unsaid and another post could easily go into the opportunities out there in regards to filters and relevance of social media streams. "But, I'm in the Valley, super busy, follow me on Twitter!"