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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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There’s No Place Like Homepage

2016-01-26 in Uncategorized

Having recently significantly reduced my engagment on Facebook (much like I did several years ago on Twitter), I’ve been asking myself: “Where can I go?”

Nowhere, man! It really makes it! 😀

One of the first things printed after the invention of the printing press was the Bible. Perhaps an entire century passed before much of anything besides the same old, same old religious texts and tomes went to press. Perhaps another century passed before anything other than religion was not deemed sacrilegious, something to be immediately outlawed and banned from the so-called civilized world. More centuries passed, and today most libraries are filled with large numbers of texts which are not simply copies of one and the same Bible.

Today, you can find almost anything your heart desires in almost any library.

It is fascinating to see this same theme play out again on the web — with what used to take centuries (and also cost innumerable lives) now playing out over decades.

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by nmw

Move On from Click Bait to Check Mate: Give Your Readers the Answers They Are Searching for Right in the Blog Post Title

2015-09-07 in Uncategorized

Many titles of blog posts follow a common click bait scheme of tickling the potential reader’s interest. One of the most common examples of this has its own name: The “listicle” (from “article” + “list”). Basically, the title would go something like this: “5 Things You Need to Know to be Happy”.

Usually, this kind of click bait immediately turns into “bait and switch“, as upon reading the rather lame article / list, the reader finds out that he/she would rather not have wasted their time reading such nonsense. The result is: The reader becomes unhappy as a result of having clicked on the link.

I believe it is much better to “tell them what you’re going to tell them” right in the blog post title. If you need the reader to click through in order for you to make money, then you can still give the reader more details and explanation in your blog post text… but at least this way they will not be disappointed. Indeed, they may be even more engaged in anticipation of the reasoning behind the answer you have already provided them freely.


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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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