Monday, December 11, 2006

What will kill the blogosphere?

The blogosphere, with its uncensored opinions and free expression, may not last forever. I will expand on this further, later today I hope, but for right now, ponder please.

Can the rough and tumble world of the blogosphere last much longer?

What could destroy it? What do YOU see as the biggest threat to the existence of the blogosphere as we know it now?

I'm not cynical or paranoid, if that's what you good and smart readers may be thinking. I'm just concerned. We love this new, revolutionary communication tool. Blogs are far more radical a tool than many of us fully realize. We write a post, publish it to the web, and gaze at it with love and admiration. But some folks are murdered or imprisoned for writing the types of things we in the Free World post to our blogs.

I see the biggest threat being Paid Enthusiast, PayPerPost, Word of Mouth Marketing Association, and other incentivized comments.

Ever since WOMMA, PayPerPost, and their rotten ilk raised their ugly, greedy, Business As Usual heads, we bloggers have to be very careful about endorsing, praising, or even criticizing any brand, company, or product.

If we praise or condemn something, we may be accused, or privately thought of, as being paid to do it.

Think about this.

The blogosphere is NOT a billboard for greedy companies to spread their lying shit all over. Sure, there are good, noble, honest companies who want to spread the word about their products in every venue they can. I'm very much into ecommerce and online marketing, but there are rules and limits.

We use the blogs, forums, and other venues online to advise each other. If I say I like Audacity audio editor from SourceForge, a FREE open source tool, you should know that nobody pays me to say that.

If we all start accepting payment, products, or other compensation, nobody will trust us anymore...and the blogosphere will become just another advertising medium. Look at what happened to radio, television, mail, telephones: lying commercials, junk mail, telemarketing.

You cannot call yourself "high integrity" or "moral and ethical", then turn around and exploit or pervert the Trust Web that we have created, and self-policed, in the blogosphere. And I think WOMMA and PayPerPost and other similar "let's pay bloggers to do our bidding" are ruining the very fabric and essence of the blogosphere. They must be stopped. I have a plan.

What say you?


Anonymous said...

Man, I love you, but when it comes down to it I don't have the same passion for the blogosphere as you do. Most of it is already crap, IMO. We all like what we like, hate what we hate. There is nothing pure and sacred about it.

The fact is, people don't find advertising that is relevant to them to be intrusive--they consider it information.

The "Trust Web" is different for everybody.

Rashenbo said...

Hmmm, it's something I've not thought that much of. The blogosphere vast... there are millions of people that log on and read posts for enjoyment, entertainment and enrichment each day. It's difficult to think of it dying off... but anything taken to extreme can be a kicker. There will also be those out to make money. Where there are readers, there will be advertisers. I don't mind advertising... but as a consumer, I want to be able to share my own thoughts and opinions on products. I don't get anything out of it except the fact that I'm making others aware. It'll be interesting to see what kind of discussion you get going about this.

steven edward streight said...

Listen closely people: I'm not talking about advertising as we normally understand it.

I'm talking about deceptive or dubious practices.

I'm talking about reading a comment on a blog, a forum, a discussion list, any online venue. A comment that SEEMS to be just a nice, friendly piece of advice, a recommendation or warning about a product, company, or whatever.

I read somewhere that PayPerPost was paying bloggers to attack AdSense, for example. Thus, bloggers would trash talk AdSense, NOT because they really hated it, but because they were PAID to bad mouth it.

WOMMA is more benign and I think they have very good intentions, but they are still too loose about Paid Enthusiasm buzz agents.

Pure blogobuzz is spontaneous, unincentivized comments by actual users who are happy, neutral, or pissed off.

Remember how postal letters used to be bills or letters from actual family and friends? You could trust the mail. Then came junk mail.

Remember the telephone? When the phone rang, you were happy. It was usually friends or family or job offers.

Now we have telemarketing, which has poisoned the phone trust network, so that we cringe when the phone rings, especially around dinner time.

We even use telephone answering machines to screen out the telemarketing zombies and recorded ad messages that are unwanted and difficult to evade.

What if your wife was being all lovey dovey, then you found out she was being paid $20 every time she said she loved you, as, say, a university experiment?

The blogosphere is not "pure" or all valuable, but the concept is radical.

Never before in human history has the common man or woman had a chance to voice their opinion to the entire world, without editors, censors, publishers, FCC licenses, etc.

Yes, the blogosphere is 90% shit. We all know that. But still, it gives the average person a global voice.

We use blogrolls, trust linking, and RSS to weed out the noise we don't want.


Anonymous said...

I know what you are saying, but maybe it will mean an eventual revival in personal actual human civic involvement, and force a societal re-think on what kind of world we want to give our kids..

It is a non-stop psychological bombardment creating tension and stress physically, mentally and spiritually. We have a distorted view of the world to have created/allowed such things. It drives people mad and wreaks havoc on health.

In other words, I argee with what you have said so far.

I don't know your idea, but it won't work unless you go to the heart of the matter...

"ME" Liz Strauss said...

Hey Steven
I think, as long as there are two authentic bloggers, there will be a blogosphere. If they can stand for what can be trusted other folks will hear that and know its real.
They will make a safe haven of sorts. I'm very interested in your idea.

steven edward streight said...

Well, my idea, or plan, has many aspects to it.

One is to go to the WOMMA site and post a comment on their page devoted to Word Of Mouth Marketing Ethics. I post a professional (I hope) but bitter condemnation of what they're doing. And either there, or another spot, I told them that I'd be boycotting and harshing any company (they display a list) that supports this Paid Opinion blogging.

But, my friends, I have much more in mind than these mild attacks. Let's see how the thread goes, before I describe other tactics and strategies.

You can also formulate your opinions and blog about them. For starters.

steven edward streight said...

P.S. As Liz Strauss has today posted a remarkable scathing critique of Twitter, she sets the example of not stupidly going along with every new "social media" gimmick.

carrie said...

i've seen that pay-per-post crap and it's crap.

Humour and last laugh said...

I think the process of natural selection will apply in blogsphere too. If the commercial interests and banal work crowd it too much the blogsphere will be killed by the consequent boredom it will inflict on the audience, just like the mainstream media of present.
But we might have something better to filter those deterrants and hold-backs and foot-draggers.
I am particulaly afraid of banal work- as one could ignore the commercials- that gives me nightmeres and haunts me.
Still blogs will be there for a long time to come, as given the choice people express themselves taking all the risks, including the ultimate.People are born to be free, they can not be hold back for long.

Anonymous said...

If it's true that information wants to be free, then the freer that information is, the more tempting it becomes to monetize every bit of it.. astroturfing, lame-ass viral marketing "blogs", comment spam, etc are all a continuance of the model which has made e-mail spam such a no-brainer - it costs essentially nothing, so any return is pure profit. It's bad for the soul, yes - but the numismatic will always trump the numinous in the marketplace.


steven edward streight said...

Good contributions here, from all my friends and blogocombatants fighting the Good Fight against pseudo-bloggery, the mainstream media, and other deceptions and dominations.

I will be fighting harder and more maniacally now that I lost the dearest human I have ever known, besides my wife.

Anonymous said...

I think you really need to chill out. I personally don't care whether or not the blogosphere collapses. As your first comment author said... nothing is sacred. Well at least the blogosphere is not. You take this way to seriously for your own sanity I'm afraid.

steven edward streight said...

Brave Anonymous: you're either part of the solution or you're part of the problem.

Plenty of things are sacred. Human life, children, love, peace, enlightenment, mathematics, lots of things.

You state quite cowardly: "...I don't personally care whether or not the blogosphere collapses."

Yet you stupidly use the blogosphere to express your fucked up opinions.

What do you care about? Your precious porn, Hellywood movie stars, Britney Spears, money, amassing an infinite collection of baseball cards, violent video games...what?

We need people who care about more than their selfish little egos and materialistic cravings.

We need people who will fight for the integrity, usability, and relevance of our communication tools.

We need people who understand self-sacrifice, altruism, and free expression.

Stephen said...

Steven I think you have simply pointed out the real and present danger of a practice that might effect the blogospere in the same way your very practical examples with mail and telephone showed to have done.

Policing this is going to be the interesting thing without the creation of a "Nanny" body in an environment that essentially does not want governance.

I guess its all down to us!

I'm very interested to hear what your views are on possible solutions...

Anonymous said...

One thing we can do is ponder all the various aspects of paid content, paid blog posts, paid buzz agenting, and formulate your own opinions.

Then, once you have something to say about this topic, post it on your blog.

Also go to the WOMMA site and engage in conversation with them. They are trying to stop PayPerPost, but I feel they don't go far enough. You can post comments on their Ethical Guidelines page.

I will issue a Marching Orders battle plan suggestion in a few days.

Anonymous said...

There is always a choice for all of us. We can choose to make a product and service (including our own blog) remarkable -- and I agree that a lot more than hard work goes into that -- or we can choose to pay to play.

When the product/service is easy to talk about because it rocks then a number of options open:

* our customers and partners can sneeze about it
* we can talk about it ourselves with full disclosure -- there is proof that we still use corporate sites to learn about companies and their products
* we can provide a real platform for your fans to talk about it for us by engaging in a dialogue with them -- this is where the free opinions of connectors and Mavens come in (many of them are bloggers today)

If this all seems too complicated and difficult to do we can always:

* pay -- but we get what we pay for

So after TVs, we got TiVos; after land phones with outrageous long distance plans and telemarketers, we got cells and Skype; after all our friends and lovers got too busy to write longhand and we were left with bills and commercial mail (ok, I send out direct mail of a technical nature...) we learned to pay online and trash the junk... and on and on.

It's called learning. Every time something new shows up, we need to test its limits, just like 2 year olds do.

It's up to us, individually, and as a group, to choose.

carrie said...

i like the stripey left margin