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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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Free Spech, Freedom of the Press and Paid Content

2016-02-10 in Uncategorized

If you think your so-called right to free speech grants you the permission to post a full-page ad on the cover of the New York Times (or on the homepage of nytimes.com), I think you are mistaken.

By the way: I also think there is some confusion about the role of advertising in the global economy. Most people think an online advertisement costs little or nothing. The truth is: It costs a lot, but companies like Google will pay very little (almost nothing) to companies like the New York Times for the right to place Google ads on the pages of the New York Times (never mind that Google also probably uses the ads to track which New York Times articles people are actually reading – in order to sell them something Google makes more money on when those people use Google to search for something else).

Yet I digress….

Back to your so-called right to free speech. It ain’t free. There’s a traditional German song called „Die Gedanken sind frei“ (i.e. „thoughts are free“) – and while that may be true, you can’t always say what you want (something people like Edward Snowdon and/or Julian Assange maybe should have thought about a little more).

Yet I digress again….

I think quite a few people think that my view of literacy involves needing to pay for valuable domain names – and I think there may indeed be some credence to that point of view. If / When people then conclude that my arguments are against their so-called right to free speech, then they are (in my humble opinion) wrong.

In case you don’t know: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. There’s no such thing as free anything. I paid to write this post – not with money, but with time… and with blood, sweat and tears. You are also paying to read it – there is an „opportunity cost“ you are paying for not doing something else instead.

Ergo: Free speech is not free.

Everything costs something. One of the basic tenets of free markets is that people can freely choose to value different things according to how much they are willing to pay for them. I bet there is even a price for placing a full-page ad on the cover / homepage of the NYT (BTW: Google has been placing ads on their homepage for many years already – but most people don’t even realize that).

If your content is worthless to you, then it seems reasonable to post it somewhere that seems to cost nothing. However: If you expect me to pay attention to it, then that seems rather unreasonable to me.

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Get Paid to Change

2015-05-02 in Uncategorized

People want to “get paid to…” do whatever.

Nowhere is that more clearly exemplified than on “YouTube” websites. Many people create videos, movies, stories, channels or whatever in order to get paid. I recently heard some media executive (it could have been any of thousands of executives, really) argue on some news program that “we need to end free”. People like this don’t seem to realize that there is no money in digital (“on the page”) content (see also “People as Content: Virtual Content vs. “In Real Life” (IRL) Content“). Where the real money is in tracking what content people are consuming, and then making educated guesses about what type of other crap they might want to consume — at least from an advertising perspective.

From a community perspective, it’s actually quite different. In a community, members are already engaged much in the same way that they might join a club — they are willing to pay membership fees, they want to participate, and so on. It’s an entirely different mindset — and one that most people don’t understand, because they are so mesmerized by the idea of consuming mass quantities of free crap.

One thing that is fascinating to watch happening is how YouTube sites kind of bring together people who expect free content with people who expect to get paid to produce content. Maybe it is a marketplace that introduces people to the idea that payment for quality engagement might have a future. At the very least, it should introduce people to at some point realize that when they signed up for a free lunch they are in reality just being sold down the river. 😉

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by nmw

Monica Lewinsky’s “The Price of Shame” TED Talk is Really About the Price of Inauthenticity

2015-03-25 in Uncategorized

Several people have shared the latest Monica Lewinsky video on Facebook, so I decided to watch it. While the topic is important, Ms. Lewinsky’s lack of authenticity makes her come across as bogus, as shilling for clickbait-based advertising campaigns.

Ms. Lewinsky has shared her story in many “mainstream” publications (such as Vanity Fair, Forbes, Twitter and now also TED)… but she has not yet published her story herself.

In her latest presentation, she states:

it’s time: time to stop tip-toeing around my past; time to stop living a life of opprobrium; and time to take back my narrative.

Again: While it is commendable that Ms. Lewinsky uses 50-Cent vocabulary, she really should deliver what she so strongly advocates: To take back her narrative.

To do that, she needs to publish her ideas herself. She should stop submitting them to other publishers who will only use them as clickbait to sell advertisements.

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by nmw

Over Time, Blog Post Titles Will Transition from Click-Bait to an Invitation to Engage

2015-01-13 in Uncategorized

The transition from click-bait blog post titles to blog post titles that invite the reader to become engaged and participate will be due to a different motivation to write blog posts.

Today most blog posts are made in order to make money from advertising something else, so the main motivation is to get someone to read or at least visit the blog page. Such advertising is usually quite worthless, and therefore will ultimately also pay very little or nothing.

In the future, the motivation will be all about engagement — about participating in the author’s own interests, projects, opportunities for collaboration, etc.

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