online whoring and the beauty of the internet

…Silicon Valley once was home to scientists and engineers — people who wanted to build things. Then it became a casino. Now it is being turned into a silicon cesspool, an upside-down world filled with spammers, liars, flippers, privacy invaders, information stealers — and their grubby cadre of paid apologists and pygmy hangers-on.

Pieces like this* (Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool) remind me why I always have this inexplicable bad taste in my mouth when thinking about tech journalists, “online influencers,” and other people who don’t seem to *create* or *do* anything other than chase page views, which itself doesn’t seem like a viable long-term business strategy to me. (Evidenced by the utter lack of ads on my own site.) In a sort of subtle (maybe too subtle for the people in mind) switch, I much prefer those people who chase content, and the page-views just become incidental, and never eclipses the content.

(To pile onto things, I also hate articles like this: Apple PR’s dirty little secret. The situation pisses me off, but I also get pissed at the tech author who thinks way too highly of himself and whines in the article itself. Get over yourself and shut up.)

This is the sort of thing that really rocked Digg, or maybe didn’t rock it directly, but it does contribute to various levels of lack of trust: transparency and conflict of interest. I don’t like having to piece together for myself a conflict of interest, since that will absolutely destroy credibility in my eyes. At the very least, be up front about it, about your processes, and if you do sell spots on the front page or otherwise artificially adjust whatever, at least say so. I know Google’s first few hits are paid placements, but they don’t hide it either (well, not ENTIRELY anyway…they certainly do try to camoflage it…)

When I read a magazine and I can’t tell if a page is an ad or not, I feel upset and distrustful of both the magazine but mostly the product on that page. I really hate having to see the word, “paid advertisement” on the top in order to tell, but at least they mags do that much!

Don’t get me wrong, mags plug shit in their normal articles as favors or whatever all the time. Yeah, information security and tech magazines know this very well! Just like Congressmen introduce bills for lobbyists, just like I may gloss over a few negative traits to get a casual friend a job interview in my company, etc. This happens, but that doesn’t mean I really like it. I just tend to try not to internalize and agonize over fights that can’t be won, ya know?

Anyway, the point is I have never liked the whole “online influencers” problem. It’s a greed play for money via pageviews, rather than driven by the love of the content (or ego play to compensate for poor self-image that drove them online in the first place). And because I don’t like this sort of stuff, it’s sort of why I don’t think things like these are viable business models (or personal mental health models) in the long run, even though they are lucrative in the short run and are threatening to destroy things in their wake (traditional journalism, content-driven but under-funded ‘little guys,’ etc).

Hell, you can even chase non-monetary popularity if you want. Just don’t be a whore.

One of the absolutely beautiful underlying concepts of the Internet is the playing field where someone can share something of quality, and you and I can find it. Where we’re not just bound by physical limitations or horizon limitations where I can just look up more on it and verify information and such. It’s not just information served to my eyeballs, but interactive and, at its best, a give and take situation that enriches lives in a wholesome way.

(Oh, and I believe ripping away anonymity won’t help.)

This is strange. I’m being pessimistic and ranty about having an idealist slant on something? Anyway, End Rant! 🙂

* I already don’t recall where I got linked to this article…