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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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Publishing Relaunched

2015-09-23 in Uncategorized

Recently — over the past several days to a couple of weeks — I have been chatting with some of my friends about publishing concepts like titles and the corresponding equivalents in an online setting. My hunch has been for many years that domain names are the closest equivalent to what a title was in the traditional publishing model. I still believe that by and large, but there are some nuances in an online setting that make it an entirely different “ecosystem” (I’ve always hated that word, but somehow it seems to fit quite well there).

Today I came across an article (which I have already quoted in the Activity stream). Here’s an excerpt from what I already quoted:

here are my Minds + Machines “premium” domain names at Hexonet that I will not be renewing

This article precipitated a “click” in my brain. To put this in old-fashioned terms, I feel this is a situation that is more or less equivalent to an author giving a publisher the finger. When I saw it this way, I also reflected a little more on the variable pricing schemes that have become “standard operating procedure” in this new online publishing world. I can imagine, for example, a celebrity game designer being “offered” the opportunity to publish their game on such a premium domain name (without needing to pay a premium price, but perhaps instead by signing some sort of contract with the publisher).

In my opinion, this is a momentous change in the history of the web. I feel we are now at the precipice of a whole new web — maybe a web 3.0? — in which the plethora of traditional print publishers may no longer matter much at all. In the future, the publishing landscape will be shaped by competition of web publishers… and by that I do not mean “desktop publishing” or even “blog software”. I mean, for example: “News” publishing (which I also wrote about just yesterday — a story in which “News” is the publishing house which belongs to the new online media conglomerate “Rightside”). In this case, “Apple” is the celebrity (company) that apparently signed a contract — but so far nothing has been actually delivered (as the name doesn’t resolve yet).

This new online publishing landscape is still very new. Some readers may be reminded of the term “ecunabula” (which was first used maybe about a decade or two [or three? or more?] ago, but which also seems to fit here). The legal ramifications from all of this turmoil in the publishing landscape (remember earlier this summer, when many traders on Wall Street were tricked into thinking they were reading news published by Bloomberg, but actually they were reading something else — leading to some swings in stock market valuations) are by and large unknown.

I have a hunch that quite a few of these new online media publishers will go out of business within the next few years. Some may remain, but only in a rather rickety form — and be among the less reputable cadre of the online publishing industry. Only a few will survive “thrivingly” to join the big leagues of reputable, large scale, well-known publishing houses — and it is a very safe bet that COM will be among them. It is a quite safe bet that indeed most generic top level domains will be among the most reputable of online publishing houses. Perhaps some country code top level domains will also be among this group. Whether any proprietary top level domains will be among this group, however… that remains an open question, yet to be resolved — and I personally have significant reservations on this point.

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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 (nooblogs.com), 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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