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Friday, December 31, 2010

Digg Down

I register only mild interest in Digg, the content aggregator that has seen better days. Digg has had, and presumably continues to have, a significant user base, but it never captured my involvement. Even so, Digg tempts me to ruminate.

The idea of sharing interesting Internet finds sounds good, and apparently for many, it worked. But you can see where things can go wrong. I’ll enumerate, just so that I can use a bullet list:

  • People will try to game the system. Those with something to sell or gain just might find ways to make their enthusiasm count more than that of  ‘the average person’.
  • Trolls, louts, loudmouths, and other irritants of the Internet will gain control of the stage.
  • Interference from the aggregator.

Digg bases its business (and it is a business) on trends, and on the hope that items will go viral. The concept of ‘going viral’ seems under-examined. People treat it as a pot of gold at the end of a hopeful rainbow.

In truth, ‘going viral’ means word of mouth. People talk about the products and services that please them. The noise of a claque might create temporary interest, but that interest will wither if unaccompanied by some satisfaction for the consumer. Social media helps get the word out, but the consumer’s judgment proves final.

It looks like Digg could not find answers to any of the problems bulleted above. I won’t prognosticate, maybe Digg will return to glory. I see Digg, however, as one more disappointing use of the Internet.

I do not blame Digg, though I hazard to say that Digg jumped the shark. The Internet grows less into a repository of information—remember the Information Revolution?—and more into a place of scams, diversion, and self interest. As a follower of trends, Digg did what all trends do. Trends fade. Digg, it seems, has faded.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Search Engine Automatonization

Repetition lies at the bottom of Search Engine Optimization. By frequently using certain words relevant to your website, you can convince search engines of the relevancy of your website to others. Makes sense. As Gertrude Stein wrote, "There is no such thing as repetition. Only insistence."

The result of such insistence may not prove entirely positive, however. That chiming in your ear might be the same words written over and over.

Does SEO batter the reader? I begin to think so. The possibility of engagement with such tailored and straitened writing seems unlikely.

I do not advocate writing with a thesaurus always in hand. That makes for an unnatural reading experience. But limiting your vocabulary within the strictures of Optimization only limits your communication.

I have the happy faith that search engines will continue finding ways to combat the optimization. Their livelihood depends on providing search results useful to those searching. Websites that sound like other websites, that provide the depth of content farms, will not retain interest for those seriously searching for results.

Good writing will. Good writing that provides original outlook, trustworthy information, and clarity of expression, satisfies people more than the limited vocabulary of SEO keywords.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Social Media is Dead

There, I said it. I don’t (quite) mean it, but it needed saying. I will now tell you why.

This blog has been quiet for several months. Partly, the world just got in the way. Tributary Communications World Headquarters moved, and so forth. When and so forth diminished, I felt that the hiatus here should continue. Something about Social Media bothered me.

Social Media interests me when it provides useful information and fresh opinion. Entertainment works, too. Without those elements, Social Media becomes a shoddy effort to beguile. I have been seeing too many shoddy efforts to beguile. I present here examples of what’s been bugging me:

  • Excitement. New products, slightly improved products, same old products, all presented with dynamic dazzle. It wears thin, doesn’t it?
  • Opinion. We all have opinions. Sometimes these opinions  elucidate, aid, inspire, or otherwise profit us. Sometimes, however, opinion obscures and congests. Measure the worth of an opinion by its freshness of thought, not the rumble of its thunder.
  • Information. Speculation is not information. Opinion is not information either. I would say that information is immediately provable. Guesses do not count as information.
  • Prognostication. Projecting what a new release of a product might entail makes a good parlor game. More often, it just muddies the water.

Social Media is so darned rushed that the content suffers. Too many people cranking out too much stuff. Social Media is not dead, but I think I heard it wheezing. Earnest effort, and a breath of fresh air, and this useful (essential) tool will be healthy again. I accept as my duty that I should take my own advice to heart.