By commenting on Motorcycle.com’s “leak” of the Multistrada 1200 this week, formerly known to the public as the Strada Aperta or Cayenne, we’ve been assailed by a storm of Internet traffic. So much so we’ve had to install a caching system to keep http://OneWheelDrive.Net up, running and vaguely responsive. This has me thinking about notoriety, the Internet and integrity.
The fact is that I faced serious ethical discomfort at writing the piece, which in essence is an analysis of what we think is credible in the Motorcycle.com post leaking Multistrada 1200 specifications, and what we think is supposition. We don’t want to betray the trust of any manufacturer who chooses to give us insight into their product plans, but nor do we wish to see those willing to break these gentleman’s embargoes see a readership profit to the detriment of us who choose a different path.
At the core of the issue is a greater issue of trust and journalism. There are individuals within these companies that trust us the motorcycle press, we get details and insights under the cone of silence. So, why not spill for profit? Because despite this trust there are projects that manufacturers put aside, specifications that change and production delays. If we as journalists brought it all to you in a big for greater internet notoriety, you’d be “looking at seals” constantly.
“Look at the seals!”, is a family euphemism. Traveling with my parent one summer’s vacation via ferry to Vancouver Island my Mother loudly exclaimed, “Oh, look! Seals!” There was a mad rush of our fellow passengers to port railings, as everyone struggled to glimpse the seals.
Later it was found that my mother was in need a new prescription for her eyeglasses, and the seals were a number of logs bobbing in the water. Right now, the motorcycling internet is busy running to the port side of the boat to catch a glimpse of the seals / Multistrada 1200, and are even busy trying to figure out if the seals are eared or earless as they break cover.
Which is to say, we know its a Multistrada 1200, we’ve got the general shape of the thing, but the details are still uncertain even as we all struggle to get a peek. Which is one of the group behaviors that the internet is great at fostering, something that Ducati’s marketing department is surely reveling in as anticipation of the bike grows.
When we do catch a glimpse, it’s nearly entirely the result of a marketing department’s plan or occasional oversight. The chance to see something first we are scrambling for is an integral part of the marketing buzz around a bike. Afterwards, when the wrappers are off, and we’ll be left looking at something that is a bike; two wheels, an engine, suspension and a series of engineering refinements over previous models of bike. That’s the point where the real anticipation should happen, where will the new Multistrada 1200 (or any other new bike) take us? What will we see on the way? Rather than what marketing info will we get to masticate and regurgitate, what will it let us create?
That’s where the real journalism will begin — when the machine meets the real world, takes us places and lets us see the sights. Perhaps there will even be seals.