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One of the Main Reasons Why You Should Thank Matt Mullenweg (and the WordPress Community) for Efforts to Increase Online / Digital Literacy Rates Worldwide

2016-03-27 in Uncategorized

More than one in four websites on the globe runs on WordPress… — but that statistic doesn’t actually matter (I will get back to this statistical issue in a moment).

Wordpress logo

WordPress logo

99.9999% of all comments on the Internet are completely worthless. This is why Google decided to create and champion the “nofollow” tag — in order to delist all comments from Google’s index. Google perhaps made a very small mistake (in throwing out the 0.0001% baby with the bathwater)… yet ultimately that comes down to 2 issues: 1. Whether you want to have any “comments” indexed at all; 2. How much you value that very small number of comments you might actually want indexed. Google was also very clever to stick the smoking gun of delisting comments into the hands of other people — perhaps there is indeed no need to cry “don’t shoot” when you’re not holding a gun after all.

In any case, the result is: Comments are not indexed. For that matter: I can’t remember if I have ever seen a facebook.com post come up in the top 10 results on any Google search. I do recall seeing twitter.com posts every now and then, but perhaps this is down to Google still being undecided regarding whether to acquire twitter or not (everything has a price). In my humble opinion, no anonymous comment is worth even just that proverbial “penny for your thoughts” — if you are not willing to stand behind your own words, I don’t want to hear them at all. In my less humble opinion, what passes for identity verification / authentication is usually completely ridiculous. Ergo, in my estimation at least 99.9999% of all online comments — perhaps even 99.9999% of all online content in general — is completely worthless crap.

Now back to the batcave — I mean: the statistical issue I raised above. The reason why maybe it is not so important that more than one in four websites run on WordPress is that most of the many millions of websites are actually owned by very few people. I myself manage a portfolio of thousands… — you might call it an investment… sort of: being long on literacy in a for the most part presently still illiterate world… and I am personally myself active on only about several dozen — or perhaps a couple hundred(?) — of these sites (including, e.g., this one). I am sorry to admit that nooblogs has yet to really catch on, enter the wider vocabulary, join the ranks of Google, Facebook, Twitter, et. al. in the list of brand names deemed significant enough to be listed in a dictionary. (yet there is still hope 😉 )

So while anonymous commentators, facebook page creators and twitterati remain oblivious to their own disenfranchisement while they surf in the most sophisticated dreamworlds of virtual reality, the plain and dirty fact of the matter — the truth, if you will — is that if you don’t manage your own website, then you are unfortunately… pretty much… nobody.

If you want to be listed in the top 10 Google results for anything, then it might help to be Google (or Alphabet or whatever — in any case: evil 😈 ) or at the very least give Google a chance to make some money (by putting Google ads on your site — i.e., helping Google to earn tons of money while you can be very proud to be listed in Google at all — at least for something).

For that tiny fraction of one percent of people who are literate enough to publish something that enables the somewhat larger population of somewhat literate users of the web to be able to read what the more literate have written, WordPress has been a Godsend. Matt often speaks about the democratization of publishing — and I feel he is right to do so… yet the vast, vast,… overwhelingly vast majority have still not attained a level of literacy sufficient to publish anything of significance on the web. The success of facebook.com is a glaring document of how widespread illiteracy still is.

Matt and other creators and contributors to WordPress have done a lot to help. You should be thankful. More than that, if you are a little bit educated, you should already be running WordPress. If not, you should presently be installing it now. Otherwise, there is a high chance that you probably paid too much for your education.

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by nmw

To go where people are, to be where people think, to present what people desire and to give people what they want to have

2016-03-22 in Uncategorized

Yesterday’s blog post was in large part prodded by one of my friends who keeps saying I should publish my writing in print – as if that were more a sign of success than if I publish my own ideas on my own properties (and this friend is also not exactly fond of the „self-publishing“ idea in general, even though in my opinion that is perhaps one of the few ways one can be truly authentic).

Today’s blog post is inspired by another one of my very inspirational friends – and there is a similarity between the two threads insofar as they both touch upon the notion of property. Today, I want to address one of this friend’s issues with my thinking about „social media“ (though in fact I normally focus on retard media – which is not exactly the same thing, though the two predicates indeed often fit the same somewhat less than noble prize-winners 😉 ).

The sans-culottes 2.0 have an affinity to aggregate on the most popular websites … like Google or Facebook (or similar brand names that happen to be in fashion at the moment). They appear to feel that there is some sort of significance to large clusters of such congregations. Few consider such herd mentality questionable, many are more prone to pronounce „YAHOO!“ at the top of their lungs’ capacity. They are #1 because the numbers say so. In my humble opinion the numbers are meaningless, because each of them is no more valuable than a single grain of sand upon thousands of miles of beaches. Their numbers and statistical prowess are far less impressive than something as simple as the salt of the Earth.

Heavyweight monstrosities such as Google or Facebook (or the more or less similar dozens of unicorns behind them) are no more significant than the dead and gone monstrosities that have come before them, only to vanish from the face of the Earth. Their existence is ephemeral, they come and go with the whims of the loud and screaming mobs who trample this way today, that way tomorrow, and then back again the next day with yet more new signs and banners they daily swear by with ever-present enormous valour.

Less than a decade ago, Digg was a force to be reckoned with on both Wall Street and Main Street, not the biggest laughing stock of yesteryear. Random strings blowing in the wind do not bring about change, they merely dissipate and whither away. Even vaporware would be an overestimation of their non-lasting worth.

The crucial question is: What distinguishes properties with lasting value from such ephemeral brand names? Years ago, the masses would scream: „A dot com“ (meaning the domain name’s „ending“ or more precisely „top-level domain“, also often referred to by the abbreviation „TLD“). Well, how much did the dot com help Digg or Myspace? Right: Not one iota.

Having a property is not good enough. To be of lasting value, you need the right property. A valuable property is etched deep in the mind of its users – it is as irreplacable as their own mother, there is a kinship as deeply rooted as the sunrise which awakens their spirit every morning, day after day, throughout their lives.

Valuable names are usually not names per se. They are the words spoken time and again at breakfast, lunch and dinner alike.

Valuable words are few and far between. They are short and simple. A „home“ will be just as valuable decades from now as it is today. A „car“ was not always a gasoline-powered vehicle, nor will it remain so until the end of time – but it will probbably remain a valuable concept in many contexts.

Written language is a technology that has developed over more than just a few years, more than just a few decades, longer even than entire centuries. It has been at the very least many millennia since writing was first developed. There are quite a few four-letter words, but not an infinite number. In contrast: Google is probably just a passing phase.

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Authorship, Authority and Authenticity

2016-03-21 in Uncategorized

I think many people place a great deal of trust in print. Pages of printed text, published between a hardcover binding, with impressive dustcovers screaming out exclusive elucidation to be had for the mere inconvenience of a small price to pay for the luxury great revelations and fantastic knowledge.

While some might say this seems far-fetched, I myself am often prodded to publish my writing. Why should I?

I know no one who would pay for it. I think most of my readers are not so attached to pulp brain dumps. They are more inclined to simply register my point of view and then move on. The so-called “rest of the world” — those with a fetish for tomes of printed words — are far less inclined to follow my reasoning, abstractions, descriptions of immaterial nature, philosophy, and similar assorted amusements. The vast majority desire a plot, a story line, good storytellers capable of awesome storytelling.

I can’t — or perhaps simply refuse to — get from here to there. My world is a static zero-sum game. There is little action, almost no surprise, the narrative is as dead as a doornail.

Even worse: I expect you to think. You are supposed to come up with ideas, make plans, engage in collaborative efforts. It’s all a huge PAIN.

Why bother?

The real world is usually not a very big page-turner. Reality is what avid readers attempt to escape… rather than embrace. Our eco-system is dirt cheap and mundane, not awe-inspiring.

Yet in my humble opinion this is a rather limited world-view. From my perspective, both the future as well as the past are fictional stories that need to be „filled in“ with concrete details. We are moving through time and space, we see various intersections up ahead, we can steer this way or that way. We can close in and move together or we can go our own ways and drift apart… – to a degree.

Anyone who thinks they are self-made is only deluding themselves. You are the product of your own choices, decisions and circumstances (and also the choices, decisions and circumstances of all other things and beings). Each and every one of us are embedded in our very own context – every now and then our contexts may overlap a little. We can sieze the day every day, and every day we act upon our glimpses of opportunities we turn tomorrow’s possibilities into today’s realities. Every moment, we create our own lives from the pallette of fictions at our immediate disposal. We are constantly reaching out to grab them and bring them into the present.

We can either keep our stories to ourselves or we can share them with each other. In our authenticity, we enable ourselves and others to grow and we thereby also become co-participants of shared experiences, we engage in collaborative storytelling, we help each other to build the real world together and we also help each other realize the dreams and goals we envision for ourselves and others alike.

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Trust in Individual People vs. Trust in Natural Language

2016-03-10 in Uncategorized

As I walked out of a store the other day (a discount supermarket, also commonly referred to as a „discounter“ – namely Aldi), I met a friend who was also walking out at the same time. After greeting each other, he noted how the recording they often play when opening or closing cashier aisles was very manipulative: When they open an aisle, the recording says „We are opening cashier number 3 for you“; But when they close an aisle, the recording says „Cashier number 4 is closing“.

When we meet someone we trust, we feel good because we quite rationally expect that they will be completely straightforward with us. I say rationally with a tinge of irony, because many of my friends working in the field of psychology often remind me that pretty much everyone lies to some degree – and they also add that „some degree“ probably works out to be several hundred times per day. So our expectation that our friends are being honest with us may indeed be more of a rationalization than anything else.

The example above (which is also from one of my „psychologist“ friends) clearly shows how the recording being used by the store was manipulative. When we ask a friend „how are you?“ – do we really want to know the truth? When they flash a fake smile and say they’re doing „great“, are we secretly happy that they didn’t rattle off a long list of things that might actually be going wrong in their lives right now?

I think such manipulation is actually quite common in interpersonal communication. People want to guard their freedom to do and think as they please, and many social conventions even provide a foundation for such little lies to be told day in and day out with virtually no repercussions at all. Compare this with clear-cut statements written out in plain English. A text written down must stand up over time; it is not as fleeting as the wind which dissipates the things we say out loud into thin air within a split second. The written word is unforgiving.

I have often written before (see e.g. http://remediary.com/2016/02/in-our-brains) that language is not owned by any individual entity, but rather that is a system distributed among a large number of members belonging to the linguistic community. In this way, it is similar to many technologies referred to as “open source technology” (such as “bitcoin”, “blockchain”, etc. — as also many other open source systems used across the web [e.g. “RSS”]). There is usually no single point of failure — i.e., no single / individual shill or con artist can manipulate such a distributed technology. Therefore, placing trust in natural language is a far more reliable information retrieval tactic than placing trust in individual people.

Note, however, that there are various levels or uses of language. A “full text” search engine (such as Google) is expected to match any text — regardless of which significance the text has in a written document. Although many people still expect that Google works this way, more informed specialists have long understood that this is simply not the case. In the early years, Google favored results in which the matching text was part of the title field of a document or in the “link texts” pointing to documents. Most reliable of all, of course, is the domain name itself — as only domain names are actually certified via the domain name registration process (Google also understands this now, which is why the company is becoming ever more heavily invested in domain names).

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