Steve Gillmor and the Art of Unnecessary Navel Gazing

Steve Gillmor craps all over Nick Carr about something having to do with Google after apparently having Nick as a guest on his latest podcast, which I used to greatly admire before Steve came out with this non-linking nonsense. Now I think that listening to Steve’s podcast will somehow dilute my brand or my reputation or my credibility or whatever it is that Steve says we should protect by creating a cocoon around ourselves.

Steve, trust me, Nick thinks he’s smarter than you. Although you may be closing in on him in the arrogance department with gems like this (from the same post):

Links produce economic ripples that keep incumbents in charge; removing links puts users in charge. Clicking on a link does not pay the author….

Actually, I don’t think Steve is arrogant at all. I just think he is trying to stuff the blogosphere into a magazine’s hole. They are different animals, Steve, and try as you might, you can’t turn a blog into a magazine. What you can do is turn it into a non-conversational personal web page, circa 1996. You can do that alright. But why would you want to?

Steve seems to have fallen into the Sisyphus trap of basing a blog’s success on the amount of money it makes. That’s like basing the success of a dinner table debate on who pays the check. Both are important, but there is generally no causal relationship.

And while I’m at it, is there any normal person in the world who can decipher this:

[T]he data only starts to speak when you get into the 6 citation and lower range. Above that, the numbers speak to clouds, silos, and their relative opaqueness. Not that that’s bad data; it’s negative gesturing at its root level. GMail, doubleclick, Rojo, Bloglines, etc. It tells us what we already know: Users have agreed to the terms of service in return for what they see as privacy, tools, and ease of use….

Steve, are you trying to be enigmatical? Do you think this sort of top down writing is why blogs are eating magazines’ lunch?

And then, the crown jewel:

Some of my best friends are linkers. Don’t forget to tip your linkers. Don’t want to link? What, and give up show business?

How, exactly, do you think people find your posts Steve? Are lesser beings born with an innate knowledge of where to find your writing? Or anyone else’s? Of course not. They find it via links. Just like I found this post via a link from Dave Winer.

There is more mumbo jumbo in Steve’s post, but when I got to this:

Remember that the greatest yield in time management is the culling of the less interesting. Looked at from a gesture perspective, each affinity link represents a dynamic ecosytem composed of a collaborative group with gestures rippling out and intersecting with other like or unlike-minded affinity systems. Where those emanations are more pronounced and back-referencing, powerful waves are generated. The Beatles are probably the most profound example of such a foldback affinity wave in our lifetimes.

I fell into a deep sleep and dreamed a of place where people just shared ideas and talked about topics of interest, without all the unnecessary navel gazing.

When I woke up, somehow I felt that Steve’s post was, to quote a phrase, “less interesting.”

More Advertising Madness

I read somewhere that a good blog should have a consistent set of themes.

So I guess one of mine has become the idea that advertising dollars simply cannot support the entire internet and all of Web 2.0. I feel pretty certain about this, yet every day I read about some great new venture that some famous blogger (which is sort of an oxymoron) who refuses to link to me thinks will one day be bigger than all four Elvises (Presley, Costello, Grbac and Dutton) and whose only meaningful revenue source is from advertising.


First we have all of Web 2.0.

Then AOL tosses in the towel and decides that since nobody wants a closed internet anymore, it will bet on ad revenue to keep its teetering boat upright. The magical $81M in ad revenue notwithstanding, it won’t work long term. There are only four ways to get rich legally: by birth, by gift, by doing something few others can do and by selling a product. AOL was not born rich, will not be given money because it is already public (no greater fool money for you, Mr. AOL), is now entering a mature market dominated by Yahoo and others, and its product no longer sells.

Of course you can say the same thing about most of Web 2.0, and I have. Over and over.

Meanwhile, TIVO, which is still running around like a chicken with its head cut off, has one-upped itself in the bad idea derby by adding ads on demand to last years’ bad idea champion, searchable ads. It’s like the time Raina and I tried in vain to convince the kids that vegetables were actually a treat. It may sound good, but even a three year old knows it’s a head fake.

Last but not least, Jake takes a page from Stowe‘s book (and apparently a hat from his closet) and wants to become a toddling advertisement for $10,000 a month. If he sells a month of ads he will have made more profit than Stowe and all of Web 2.0 combined.

When the advertising house of cards collapses, there is going to be a lot of carnage.

Why Scoble is Wrong About Second Life’s Kid Policy

Scoble posts about the Second Life rule prohibiting anyone under 18 from using the regular version of Second Life. As Pathfinder Linden, Second Life’s internet ambassador, explained in a Comment to one of my prior posts about the sin-tricity of Second Life, there is a separate Second Life for 13-17 year olds, where no one less than 13 or older than 17 is allowed.

Scoble understands the reason for the rules, but he says he doesn’t like them:

The thing is, I don’t necessarily buy into the rules of society, or the rules of Linden Labs. If I don’t mind my son getting into a Poker game, or seeing a virtual sex act, isn’t that my right as a parent to let my son experience those things?

No. Our puritanical society has set up rules and regulations about such things. If you enter a Las Vegas casino you aren’t allowed to let your kids sit down and play backjack. At least not until they are 21.

I do think the rules suck, though. This is a virtual world. Why do we need to live with first-world rules?

The problem, of course, is that they can’t let Robert’s kids in without letting everyone else’s kids in. And while I have never thought of myself as a Puritan, I don’t want my kids running around in Second Life. Sure, I might one day decide that one or more of my kids are responsible enough to be exposed to this sort of thing, but the only manageable approach with kids’ access is all or none. To try to set up some sort of a parental approval process would be a nightmare. Kids would hang around looking for a willing grownup to sign them in much like we used to hang around outside a convenience store looking for an 18 year old to buy us a six-pack.

If Second Life didn’t have and enforce this rule, thousands and thousands of kids would find a way into Second Life without their parents’ knowledge or permission and you would have a completely unacceptable mix of adults (who unfortunately always seem to gravitate to the R rated stuff- or worse) and kids (who should not be allowed to see or participate in that sort of stuff).

Sure, the lawyers probably told Second Life they’d better put some protections in place, because sadly the internet is a dangerous place for kids. But the fact that Second Life has some controls that may actually work, as opposed to the smoke and mirrors used by MySpace, is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Scoble, here’s all you need to ask yourself to see it my way: if the internet had existed when we were kids, how much time would we have spent trying secretly to find the very stuff we now want to keep from our kids?

I have no doubt that Scoble’s son is a responsible kid who can handle Second Life. But I bet he has some friends who are not and could not. Open the Second Life gates and there would be a ton of other kids running around who are not and could not. Not to mention the kids who aren’t really kids.

Second Life actually needs to do more, not less, to keep our kids out of the adult Second Life and to keep interlopers out of the teen Second Life.

They aren’t creating the patterns of behavior, they are simply reacting to them.

More on the Non-Link Movement

In yesterday’s edition of the RanchoCast podcast, I talked at length about this new movement in the blogosphere begun by a few self-important bloggers who belive that they don’t need to link out to anyone else because linking somehow reduces their influence and credibility.

I think that is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard and if you’d like to hear why, but don’t want to sit through some great music, here’s an excerpt from that portion of the podcast.

RanchoCast – May 5, 2006 Edition

I did a new podcast tonight. I think it’s the best one we have ever done.

The theme is the Girl Power Show. Lots of great obscure music, most of it by female musicians and singers.

I played some gems by Holly Golightly, the Greenhornes, Neko Case, Bonnie Bishop, Rico Bell and others. I ended the show with a great jazz/blues jam by Rashaan Roland Kirk.

You can also hear my take on these self-important bloggers who don’t think they need to link to anyone.

Three Things Meme

Mathew tagged me with the Three Things Meme, so here goes.

The three things are supposed to be things that you would like to see occur in your lifetime. Some folks mention the important, serious things, like curing cancer, world peace and making the world safe for all children (which would be my serious three), but I’m going to follow Mathew’s lead and give my less serious three:

1) Wake Forest win a national championship in college basketball.

2) The remaining members of Led Zeppelin tour again and come to Houston.

3) XM and Sirius satellite radio merge so I can get Sirius channel 14 on XM.

I think the chances of the above happening are 3%, 60% and 75%

I’m tagging Mike Miller, OmegaMom and Rick Mahn.

Blogs Without Links Are Not Blogs

They are the creations of arrogance and vanity.

linksThere seems to be a movement among the self-impressed in the blogosphere to toss up walls around themselves to avoid having to interact with the unwashed masses. I don’t know who came up with this brilliant plan, but if it gets legs, it will set the blogosphere back by years.

First we have Steve Gillmor saying that bloggers shouldn’t link.

Now I read via Richard Querin’s blog that Seth Goldstein says:

Strong web bloggers no longer link.

Somebody please tell me this is a joke. Or satire that I’m too tired to detect. I simply cannot believe that anyone who can type words on a keyboard could write something that ludicrous.

This is the sort of arrogant bullshit that makes me want to stop blogging altogether. I am 100% certain that I wouldn’t spend a nanosecond hanging out with anyone arrogant and naive enough to believe that they are the only ones with anything useful to say in the real world, so why would I want to do it in the blogosphere?

Just because a few curious onlookers read your online diary does not mean you are in any position “to shape thought.” Take away the conversations that are engendered by right-thinking bloggers and the only thoughts that we are shaping is the thought that we are a bunch of geeks who ought to step away from the computer and go outside.

Have some of these bloggers really convinced themselves that they are rock stars? Are they about to start showing up in People Magazine? Anyone who has anything resembling a life would laugh their heads off at the prospect of some nerd trying to claim that because his online diary is read by a a few thousand out of the 6.5 billion people on earth, he has somehow arrived to the point where he can sit atop his pile of slide rules and pocket protectors and preach to the masses, without the need to join in anything resembling a conversation.

I am utterly blown away by the absurdity of what I am reading these days.

If this is where the blogosphere is going, count me out.