Would I normally write a post about getting a new mobile phone? Although I sometimes stray from Mediations' declared content of Journalism + Public Relations + Ethics (with cycling a frequent diversion) the focus hopefully is still reasonably tight and readers (friends?) know what to expect.
So the answer is probably no, I wouldn't. So do I review the Cocoon, just because I was sent one and feel some sort of obligation? If it had come out of the blue, the answer is relatively easy, but I did accept the pitch from Peter Kwong at VCCP, so maybe the obligation becomes rather stronger.
And I am interested in watching how the blogger outreach campaign develops.
The next question is probably "Am I in any way qualified to review a mobile phone?" Well, yes and no.
Yes, because I use one and as I am on perhaps my fourth, I do have experience of choosing and using them.
No, because I have taken little interest in them, and have no real idea as to what a discerning user should expect from a mobile in Autumn 2007; I am quite enjoying setting different songs as ring tonmes from different people, but I don't know whether this is a brilliant new feature unique to the Cocoon or in fact every time I phone a friend their mobile starts playing Rod Stewart's Da Ya Think I'm Sexy? (This is definitely my favourite feature as I have just realised that, by definition, the caller is unlikely ever to hear the song I have chosen for them... mischief beckons).
So does my ignorance matter? Is VCCP being clever in side-stepping 'real' reviewers and targeting naive, impressionable amateurs who will be entranced by the shiny newness (and may also be thinking 'If I play the game this time what comes next?)" If we are talking about technical knowledge I clearly fail the test of competence that should underpin ethical decision-making. But, then again, as a journalist I reviewed and reported on hundred things I knew virtually nothing about...
The nub of the question seems to be, has VCCP bought publicity on Mediations by giving me a phone? And to a large extent the answer has to be yes. Is this wrong? I am sure some people would say it was. But why? I can see strong arguments against celebrity PR which demands copy approval and have sympathy for newspapers that refuse free travel trips etc (although I took them myself!).
The answer is quite complicated (and that is often not a good sign in ethics!). I am going to suggest that it is OK to fulfill the obligation I made my accepting the pitch on the grounds that I am using it to examine an ethical dilemma in a social media context. What a convenient answer!
But I would go on to say that this is definitely not a pitch for more consumer goods - not least because this is not a consumer goods blog and any more posts about new equipment would alienate my already small readership. (Anyone wanting me to write about long distance cycle rides should not be put off by this...).
As for the Cocoon, I like it because it has a 2GB music player which is sufficient for most journeys and it is smaller than either my existing phone or my Creative Zen mp3 player, never mind both of them. And I like having Marquee Moon as my ringtone. That's cool...