A Rant, by Naoise Osborne
I have a friend who runs a website for a product that hasn’t been invented yet. Seriously. He’s a smart guy who’s half domainer and half lazy SEO (god blesss’im), and a while back he decided that digital wall calendars are a product that must, one day, be invented. Being an SEO he also realized that even now people are searching for them, expecting them to exist – So he went out and bought digitalwallcalendars.com and electronicwallcalendars.com, and made them into really basic info sites, acknowledging that there is demand for this product, so someone please make it (Tungle you hear that? Call me, I’m in Montreal, this should be your business plan). He runs Adsense. The ads, quite obviously, cannot have much of anything to do with digital wall calendars, because – THEY DON’T FREAKING EXIST, but he admits to me that he’s reluctant to add much of any more content to the site, because for whatever reason, incomprehensible to him, people are actually clicking the ads. Why change that? The sad fact of the matter is that a lot of the ad networks and websites that display them pander to, and are utilized, by web morons – people who barely understand that they’re clicking on an advertisement when they do. These ad networks are embracing the lowest common denominator, and even taking advantage of them. Website owners profit, and have no incentive to change the woeful status quo.
A lot of the time these are older people who aren’t able to get their heads around the subtleties of Internet life and how people interact online, but sometimes they’re just culturally isolated from an understanding of those subtleties (redneck tech anyone?). Of course there are other web morons (every time I read Youtube comments, I die a little inside), from the next generation, not the last, and the only reason they might bite the dust is a heaven sent epidemic of the Darwin effect (an atheist makes a silent prayer, and he means it dammit). The older generation’s Internet experience is ruined by their lack of understanding that they’re being taken advantage of or underserviced, while the younger generation’s Internet experience appears to exist solely to ruin MY Internet experience. The fact that young web morons are empowered to spout their valueless verbal diarrhea on the largest websites in the world is a by-product of the technology of web 2.0, and the mindset of freedom of speech being a free-for-all. With little to no editorial intervention, the free-for-all becomes a useless cesspool of non-information. The public internet degrades in value, passing reason and purpose to the privatization of the world’s evolving information technology, limiting access to high quality content, and so essentially, making knowledge an exclusive privilege. Who’s at fault for all of this mediocrity? You, me and the powers that be. Ad networks are not the only online entities embracing the mundane, most of the world’s biggest websites do it too, and we the people feed the cycle by contributing to the melee with nothing noteworthy at all. Well, it’s almost 2010, and I don’t really care about flying cars, but seriously, people who make the world go round, people who surf the web, all of you listen to me, I’m sick of seeing the Internet pander to the (s)lowest common denominator, so fix it. One website at a time, here’s some advice:
I hate you. If I’m ever lonely at night, having trouble falling asleep, all I have to do is think about the millions and millions and millions of other souls just like myself that also hate your guts, and I feel a little bit better about the world around me, and can slip into a peaceful slumber. You’re like the strip mall in the poor part of town that sells nothing but cheap plastic souvenirs begging to be taken home like so many flea ridden stray dogs. Myspace Users: Musicians – You needed a myspace page in 2005, and yes, even in 2010 you should have a presence there that lets people find your real website, but stop thinking of it as your home, or even a hub – your myspace address is not what you should be advertising, there are plenty of free ways to easily stream your music from your own domain and properly interact with your fans on your own site. A domain and hosting cost NEXT TO NOTHING, and there are specialists out there who will help you do what you need to do – if you’re concentrating on pimping your myspace page, stop, go write a chord progression, and move on. While it’s good for networking, and it may be for another couple of years yet, use it, but start thinking of it as a conduit to interaction, not an end. It’s not good enough. Comedians: (a lot of people don’t know but comedians embraced myspace early on for the same reasons musicians did) – same deal boys and girls, you want to promote yourself online, use myspace for networking and exposure while it lasts, but hurry the hell up and get a slick website up, running, and established, like this Montreal based stand up – THAT’S how you sell yourself, use myspace as a business card to point people to a place where you can really get your message across. It’s 2010, there are no technical barriers anymore. 12 year old girls: grow up. Anybody else feel they need to use myspace? Myspace owners: Rupert, your personal advice, same as for the 12 year olds. Good news, it’s dying:
I love you, but you’re like the girl I dated in University ten years later. You never really grew up, never developed, you never did anything to improve yourself, and the years have not treated your looks so well. Simply put, you’re ugly, you’re useless outside the one thing I use you for (you know what that is, and if you think that’s enough for me to stick around should something better come along, think again), and I simply do not expect to be friends with you in the long run. Shave your legs. Craigslist users: There is nothing you can do. You don’t even know that you’re being fed ten year old usability and that the Internet has the potential to be sooooooooooo much better. You’re like a boy who has been raised in a cellar, never having seen natural sunlight, never having read anything but communist era propaganda schoolbooks. How could you know any better? Of course you couldn’t. It’s not your fault. Please don’t be angry with the world, though understand it is your right. Craigslist owners: Read that wired magazine article all the way through, steal the tens of thousands of dollars worth of free design advice and invest the one week it would take to make your website not suck so much. I know you don’t care that it sucks butts, perhaps you’re above suckery, I don’t quite know, but really, it’s no skin off your back, and if it would make the masses happy, can you explain to me why it is that you don’t care? You realize even your grandmother would despise your site. Why do you hate your own grandmother? Let me guess. You don’t care to tell me. Bad news, people don’t know what they want:
Google Adsense anthropomorphically:
You are the worst thing that has ever happened to the Internet in the history of the Internet. Why do you think its okay to make your advertisements look like content, blurring the line for all but a slim portion of web users who can differentiate? Does it make you feel superior to take advantage of all of the small IQs out there who are never quite sure if they’re clicking on a text ad, or a real piece of content? How do you sleep at night? Oh that’s right, comfortably on a billion dollar pillow. Google Adsense users: Hmm, this is pointless, the people who don’t know that they’re clicking an ad are not going to read this. Everybody else, just move on. Webmasters who use it, I can’t blame you, it’s the easiest buck, but trust an old-school affiliate, there is better money to be made with real programs, they’re just a lot more work to scale intelligently to your content. Elbow grease builds engines. Google Adsense owners: Okay, I’ve been an affiliate for about 12 years now, and I’ve never EVER come across an affiliate style program that treats their affiliates as HORRIFICALLY as you, dear Adsense owners, treat yours. You guys are more crooked than the casino and porn industries put together, in an awkward position. Why, when the account I’ve used for six years and absolutely pummeled with spam, from shallowmaker and beyond, have you never even missed a payment by a day, but plenty of others who have disgustingly clean accounts are canceled, funds seized, emails ignored, and kicked to the curb. If you were trying to compete with other affiliate programs you would have failed a long time ago because of your absolutely pathetic lack of customer service, you’re inane “I make the rules, screw anyone who gets in my way” philosophy, and your tendency to steal from honest people, without even the courtesy of a personal “screw you”. Instead, you act like any other rich prick, and just do what you want at poor people’s expense.
Google Search anthropomorphically:
I guess I can’t blame you for pandering to the masses, except, that’s kind of the point of this post, so here, let me blame you. You’re killing the world. Please stop trying to convince people that all of their answers can be found behind your little white search box. The entire concept of universal search is going to dumb down the portion of the population of the planet that haven’t learned how to learn yet. People need to develop the skill of critical thinking, and develop the ability to qualify knowledge, but the masses are letting your ranking algorithm do that for them. I’m not sure how to fix that- but you know, at least be friendly with black Google. Racism isn’t cool. Google Search users: Stop it. Stop taking your life, your library, your homework, your whole freaking developing mind, and outsourcing it to Google. It’s not worth it. Your brain will atrophy. You’ll grow up without any skills and an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. You will simply become another Paris Hilton, and our culture will die. Google Search owners: Hey, geniuses, “universally accessible” means EVERYBODY regardless of creed, colour, religion, socioeconomic status, or LOCATION. Stop pandering to oppressive governments who trample human rights just so you can profit – all you’re doing is propagating abuse and human suffering. Pandering to the highest common denominator is no better than the lowest, if the high end is all about keeping the proletariat down.