Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Loren Feldman - The Jester In The Court Of Web 2.0

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 1, 2010


[From left to right: Loren Feldman with Mike Arrington, Loic LeMeur, Robert Scoble during happier times - photo from Loic LeMeur]

Loren Feldman is the New York City based publisher of 1938Media.com, a fascinating, irreverent and funny critic of the West Coast tech scene.

Loren used to be an insider, a close friend of the princes of the Web 2.0 world: Michael Arrington, Robert Scoble, Loic LeMeur, and others. But Loren has managed to upset all those people, and more; and so have I simply by retweeting some of his comic puppetry.

(I've been blocked and called names because of my re-tweets of Loren's material but that won't stop me. It's a guy with a sock (puppet) on his hand -- people need to lighten up.)

Loren's puppets are hilarious. He has puppets representing Robert Scoble, Loic LeMeur, Shel Israel, Peter Cashmore, Dave Winer, Mark Zuckerberg, Gary Vee, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Steve Ballmer, and more.

Here is an example of Loren Feldman's puppetry: Steve Ballmer's iPad review.



Loren often hits the nail on the head and says things that I hear others saying privately. When he talks about how the West Coast tech scene is so fixated on incremental additions to operating systems; the obsession with the iPhone, iPad; the fact that we have enough technology and not enough useful applications of technology; and the overbearing shouting of some of our leading Web 2.0 evangelists.

The things he says are things that many would love to say but they have to live here, and they don't have a sock puppet to say things for them. Many of the things he says are funny and true.

Truth can be uncomfortable, which is why I get into trouble retweeting his work, and I know people who have gotten in trouble simply for retweeting my retweets of Loren's material (wow).

Court jester...

In my opinion, Loren is playing a key role, the role of the court jester. It's a vital role that keeps influential people humble, honest, and a reminder not to smoke too much of their own stash, drink their own koolaid, etc.

From: Fooling Around the World: The History of the Jester

Irreverent, libertine, self-indulgent, witty, clever, roguish, he is the fool as court jester, the fool as companion, the fool as goad to the wise and challenge to the virtuous, the fool as critic of the world.

The court jester is a universal phenomenon. He crops up in every court worth its salt in medieval and Renaissance Europe, in China, India, Japan, Russia, America and Africa.


Instead of getting mad at Loren we should be seeking out more like him. People get surrounded by minions who agree with everything they say -- that's not a good thing. We get caught up in our own echo chamber and it takes a court jester to pop our balloons, wake us up, slap us in the face metaphorically.

Jesters used to be prized by royalty and they would compete for the best jesters. Queen Elizabeth I of England once threatened her jester because he wasn't harsh enough with her.

Loren can seem to be pretty harsh but that's a subjective reaction; his nature is that he keeps it real. And that used to be a key quality of bloggers -- keeping it real, keeping things authentic. These days such qualities are rare and becoming rarer as commercial interests can take precedence over authenticity.

Loren Feldman is a big critic of many of the things the Web 2.0 crowd finds dear, such as Twitter, which he says is one long river of advertisements as people promote their own work time and again (true - I do it all the time).

Harsh truths aren't pleasant but truth is not harsh it is simply the truth.

The point is not to kill the jester but to celebrate the jester. That's why we need Loren Feldman and 1938media, imho.


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