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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, 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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Authors, Publishers and Publications: What is the Difference Between an Author and a Publisher?

2015-04-06 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I wrote about publishers on one of my “personal” blogs (see “Zen and the Art of Giga Om“), and I treated domains / websites / domain names as individual publications (many other people view them as outposts or shingles for people or companies; but I see them as quite analogous to the role book titles have had — especially insofar as each book title also needs to be associated with the author or authors and other publication information [such as details about the publisher, etc.] ).

Today, I thought more about these distinctions — especially the difference between authors and publishers. In my view, the most authentic form of publishing is “self publishing”, because that way there is nothing in between the author and the finished product (the publication)… and this is usually the case online — but not always.

There are some websites — many of them are quite “popular” — where authors submit their content, and then a separate entity (in this case, it makes sense to identify these entities as “publishers”) publishes the content (or not — according to the publisher’s discretion). All of what is commonly referred to as “social media” uses this publishing model. If someone were to sign up as a “member” of this website (, the situation would be quite similar. I also have other websites in which I publish content from various authors automatically (i.e., as “RSS feeds”), and then I also post my views on those (or similar) topics of interest to me. In this case, the model might be more along the lines of an approach used by “Readers’ Digest” or similar collections (another similar method is sometimes referred to as “content aggregation”).

Although I do feel that such methods of “content curation” (a sort of meta-content) will become more widespread over time — and here I wish to emphasize the important role of human intelligence, which will probably not be equaled by artificial intelligence or simple “brute force” algorithmic bean-counting machines within the foreseeable future (quite certainly not within decades, and perhaps not even within centuries)… nonetheless the vast majority of content — insofar as it might be deemed authentic (cf. “Authenticity Guidelines“) — will be self-published.

Therefore: Increasingly, in the vast majority of cases, authors and publishers will be one and the same person (or entity).

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Managing your own content

2014-12-19 in Uncategorized

Using WordPress, managing your own content is relatively easy.

For example: When you add a link to a post, that link is precisely the link you intend to add. In contrast, when you post a link to “social” websites like, or even, those links are actually “recoded” to go somewhere else (so that those social sites can more easily track you, your readers, etc.) — for example, you might have seen links to “” or “” (or any of a wide range of many other sites) instead of the link you wanted to add. When people click on these links, the “social website” companies record this activity and then forward to the link you had originally intended to add.

On another level, downloading “your own” data is also easy with WordPress. Note, though, that these days it is really hard to define what is “your data”. Of course, if you are an administrator of a blog, then everything on that site is your data. (many people seem to believe that when they post something to facebook, it is still their own content — they probably never consider that it might then also be facebook‘s content). But what about if someone writes a comment on your post — whose content is that?

There seems to be a convention that says this content is part of the author’s post. There have been several attempts to develop “commenting systems” that keep track of comments (these are usually linked to the email address tied to the profile making the comment)… but this is usually considered “overkill” when considering what is “my content” (probably only very few people wish to know about all of the thousands of comments posted to Mark Zuckerberg’s posts — perhaps Mark Zuckerberg himself doesn’t want to know about that level of detail).

Personally, I feel comments are more or less “throwaway” remarks — they are relatively inconsequential. If I have something important to say about something someone else has posted, then I will write a new post about it, perhaps I will quote an excerpt from the post (to point out which particular part I wish to reply to), and then link to the original post.

This goes back to the original meaning of a link — it is the electronic version of what was referred to during the paper era as a “footnote”. Today, marketers usually don’t even think about how a link is related to the footnote — so called “search engine marketing” (SEM) is all about paying for links (which Google usually says is prohibited — unless you’re paying Google! 😛 )

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