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Six Ways Matthew Ingram is Wrong about Andrew Keen Being Wrong about the Internet

Matthew Ingram published “Six ways in which Andrew keen is wrong about the internet [sic]” and I have to say, “what nonsense”. It’s so much fluff, wrapped in stock photography and Modern Typography, that it’s comical (to me… an admitted Silicon Valley Outsider).

So here on my ugly little blog, where an audience 0.0001% the size of Medium or GigaOhms will see it, I offer you:

“Six Ways Matthew Ingram is Wrong about Andrew Keen Being Wrong about the Internet”

1. The first section Ingram wrote was “It has created giant monopolies

I didn’t read Keen’s book, but after reading Matthew Ingram’s response, I can say that Ingram’s wrong about this one. In what is presented as an argument that the Internet has NOT enabled giant monopolies, Ingram almost immediately falls to the excuse “monopolies are nothing new”, and cites the Amazon/Google/Facebook examples. He says “while it’s true that network effects can help entrench these monopolies, they can also disrupt them”. As if that was relevant?

He concludes his paragraph about how wrong Keen is with a completely factless assertion “The Internet destroys as many as it creates“. Really? Where DID that DATA come from?

2. Under the claim “it’s free, but we are the product” Ingram again defers to the “it’s not as bad as” type of excuse. After noting Keen’s claims that the Internet is abusing us to make money off of us, Ingram simply states “is this really that much worse than the world of mainstream entertainment, whether it’s cable television or Hollywood movies? … Is what Facebook is doing really that bad by comparison?

I never expected someone writing about how someone else is “wrong” to simply acknolwedge the valididty of the claims, followed by “but it’s ok”. But that’s what Ingram is doing. This essay is nonsense.

3. Under “the jobs it creates are not real jobs” Ingram again acknowledges that the Internet “has helped to destroy thousands of secure and well-paying factory or middle class jobs”. He then wonders out loud why Keen didn’t list this as a “positive thing“. Really?

Again… you guessed it… Silicon Valley apologist Ingram adds a not-so-bad comment: “But isn’t this better than nothing?” I kid you not. If Keen was “wrong”, then so must be Ingram because they are in agreement on the fact.

4. Under “it hasn’t created enough value“, Ingram addresses Keen’s claim that the new jobs we have in the digital economy, like posting our content in exchange for a small share of Google’s ad revenues (or no share of Buzzfeed’s), are worse than the old jobs of assembling motor cars. I kind of thought this would be impossible to counter, even for a Silicon Valley fan boy.

But alas, if you simply reply to points with reasons why they are “not so bad”, you can counter anything. As Ingram does.

Ingram simply says that our new work is actually more like entertainment, and that we enjoy it, before he admits the economic value is indeed much less. That’s right…. less. In agreement with the very claim he says Keen got wrong. Again.

5. On the topic of “it promotes a narcissistic culture” Ingram addresses Keen’s “Cult of the Amature” propositions. Again, I did not read Keen’s work, but based on the title alone I like it. Our physical world is now filled with selfie-sticks. How can this assertion be “wrong”?

Ingram offers no argument to support a claim that Keen is “wrong”. Given the chance to argue in his own essay, Ingram simply references a status-quo argument : that the Internet simply amplified what was going on already, and also enabled expression of creativity (he threw that in to distract us, I suppose). He then asserts that this has an “incalculable” social value. Wow.

Basically we have one guy (Keen) saying these narcissistic posers are ruining the world, while Ingram thinks they are wonderful. Somewhere in there, Ingram feels ok claiming one of those opinions is “wrong”. I’m guessing you can tell the Silicon Valley fan boy from the other guy at this point, even without my help.

6. Finally, in “it’s a lawless free-for-all“, Ingram repeats his unique brand of debate one last time. Keen says piracy is bad. Ingram suggests not that it isn’t bad, but rather that these unregulated companies exploiting things like piracy will eventually get regulated, too.

Yup. He agreed the pirates bend the rules, and make money doing it, until they get caught or constrained by regulations. Sounds an awful lot like… well…. pirates?

How Ingram can frame that as disagreeng with a claim that “it’s a free-for-all” is beyond me. His argument is more like “okay, so it is a free-for-all, but not for long because it’s wrong and will have to be regulated eventually“.

This, folks, is why I don’t bother reading GigaOhm or Medium…. the vehicles used for Silicon Valley propaganda that isn’t even good enough for entertainment. It’s a stall tactic… and a disrespectful one at that. In the eyes of these pirates, you are all a bunch of idiots and will eat up this drivel while, in the mean time, they take all the cash before the regulators take action.

Life is simple. Follow the money.

Visit Spain in April : DomainingEurope.com

Updates: As I update this post, you’ll find the additions either as UPDATE asides like this one, or at the end where I extend the post to reveal some of the activities I secretly engage in when on conference travel in foreign lands.

DomainingEurope.com is an annual conference held in Valencia, Spain every year. I’ve been the past two years, and it is one of the best trips I make in the web publishing industry. Thinking of gaining some fresh perspective? Fancy a trip to Europe?

I’m going to post some stories and pictures, but in the mean time let me just say Spain is very easy and fun to visit, the host is a top quality person (Dietmar Stefitz), and the conference is totally worthy of the time and attention (practical discussions of real world issues obtaining, using, selling, and the future of Internet domains).

UPDATE: I have a significant discount code if you need it… just contact me behind the scenes at USA @ DomainingEurope dot com.

The Euro is at a 9 year low compared to the dollar, and Spain is one of those countries where the people simply insist on living a good life no matter what the economy or external geopolitical climate might be. In my experience you are never more than 15 feet from someone who speaks English, and never more than 5 feet from someone who is friendly, considerate, and willing to answer a question or share a pleasantry.

salon de juegos Madrid

This “salon de juegos” is typical for almost every neighborhood in Madrid. It’s a “Game Room”. The new domain JUEGOS.CLUB recently sold for $6000. (Photo copyright 2014 John Andrews, LLC All Rights Reserved).

For business, I meet more independent-thinking, open-minded entrepreneurs there than at big US conferences like NamesCon… they seem less mainstream, less likely to be working scams, and more thoughtful, and are more deeply involved in their domains and publishing on the web. I also meet vendors close up and personal… there are fewer “invite only” private dinners, for example, and in general a more open community than at US-based events.

Update: After NamesCon, I am even more thrilled to be headed to Europe. The energy behind some of the gTLDs is catching on, and I am very curious what my European friends think of the potential of cross-border names like .club and .buzz in their countries. FYI, jeugos.club just sold for $6000, suggesting that the Spanish langiage market likes .club (juegos is “games” in Spanish).

If you are interested, let me know via social media (Twitter @johnandrews DM me) or email USA @ DomainingEurope dot com… I have deep discount codes available.

If you are a domain industry player and want some insider comments about how good this would be for your brand or gTLD or whatever to engage with, I’m happy to share insights. There is no better venue to continue the meomentum of the new gTLDs in front of an audience of domain investors and developers, than DomainingEurope.

More about Visiting Spain

Take the metro... it's convenient, reliable, and gets you mixing in with the locals. Valencia is flat and the metro runs close enough to everywhere you want to visit.

Take the metro… it’s convenient, reliable, and gets you mixing in with the locals. During siesta, it’s almost empty. Valencia is flat and the metro runs close enough to everywhere you want to visit.

I enjoy traveling and especially traveling into Spain, for many reasons. While of course it’s great to visit trendy and amazing places, I like to trek through “real” places, where I can participate in the community as other than a tourist. Spain is very easy for solo travel, and interesting.

I tend to “skip out” very often during conference travel. It’s a way for me to scout out neighborhoods and pathways before I have any vested interest in actually getting anywhere at a particular time. In Valencia, the metro is very convenient but it is also a very walkable city.

Secotel Hoteles Sorolla Palace

The Sercotel Hoteles Serolla Palace is a fine hotel and the conference hotel. It is a modern steel and glass vertical hotel in the business district of Valencia. Stay there, to enjoy the guest hospitality and comforts of a conference hotel. The food is excellent, and the spread put out is tremendous. The hotel clearly caters to upscale international travelers and business people.

A few of my European domainer friends chose to stay in apartments and VRBO-like flats nearby in the neighborhoods. They were not high-quality. They were fine, according to them, but very very cheap and you do get what you pay for when choosing cheap, local accommodations off the tourism map. I did not get to visit any but will try harder this year… it’s part of my kind of travel: get to see what others are doing, without having to do it myself ;-)

The food put out by the hotel was always very impressive. There is simply no way you would not be happy with any of the meal buffets they offer. The coffee machines are real… not this Keurig crap we see in the states, but 4 or 5 real automated espresso machines set out with real milk options and the like. Of all of the things I’ve enjoyed about Europe over the years, the coffee has been a highlight.

The Sercotel Sorolla Palace buffet is a highlight. never disappoints.

The Sercotel Sorolla Palace buffet is a highlight. never disappoints.

Europeans consider sweets served after meals to be "digestive aids"... they got that right.

Europeans consider sweets served after meals to be “digestive aids”… they got that right.

View from my Conference Hotel in Valencia, looking towards the water on a clear day. Hoteles Sercotel Sorolla Palace. It was like 75 euro per night as I recall.

View from my Conference Hotel in Valencia, looking towards the water on a clear day. Hoteles Sercotel Sorolla Palace. It was like 75 euro per night as I recall.

Tapas is the rule in Spain, and for good reason. You can eat a little bit of good food, cheaply, which enables everyone to go out every night, without a big expense. But for the toursist, often tapas is not the best choice. For example, if you know you like spiced up grilled chicken, you can order it as a meal. And when you do… if you are outside of the tourist tracks, you can get …

Get off the tourist track, and enjoy "real" food in Spain. This was served to me as ONE serving of grilled chcken...you can see I had already eaten the bread with my wine.... a mistake.

Get off the tourist track, and enjoy “real” food in Spain. This was served to me as ONE serving of grilled chicken…you can see I had already eaten the bread with my wine…. a mistake. The total bill was under $15.

 

The guys who served me ran the bar and back kicthen, and were very interested in how I liked their food… they had no interest in gaining social media reviews or getting a tip.. they just saw a new customer they wanted to make happy.

ValenBi Si bike rentals are everywhere, helmets not required, and Valencia is flat so it actually works.  I used it several times last year.

ValenBi Si bike rentals are everywhere, helmets are not required, and Valencia is flat — so bike rental actually works. I used it several times last year, especially when I overstayed my visit and had to be back to the conference in a hurry.

The European Domaining Conference food was great.. the Hotel is top tier and does a great job serving Spanish-prepared classic foods everyone will like. But with a 2-3 hour mid-day break, and virtually the entire population out for socializing between 930 and 11 pm every single night, you almost always wander out at night and eat again. To be honest, I love the lifestyle.

This American was not accustomed to the amount of street art in Spain.. it's a cultural expresssion less connected to street crime than it is in the US. Also, the narrow streets from hundreds of years ago are very cool.

This American was not accustomed to the amount of street art in Spain.. I’m told it’s a cultural expresssion less connected to street crime than it is in the US. Also, the narrow streets from hundreds of years ago are very cool. The posts protect pedestrians.

If you want to understand Spain, don’t ask a Spaniard. They literally don’t know how unique their culture is, or at least don’t know how to communicate that to a foreigner. That’s why I walk… I see things for myself.

And almost every time I walked, I ran into something new and interesting.Ask a resident about festivals and they’ll tell you about the big annual one you just missed. But then… not a day goes by that you don’t encounter a celebration of some sort on the streets.

There are so many different cultures within the nation known as Spain, and every one of them wants to express their culture in public. It’s part of the process of keeping it alive and maintaining respect for your cultural within the conglomerate that is Espana. So when you see a c rowd or hear some music or instruments or clapping or stomping, go check it out. It’s a celebration.

I watched dancers from Sevilla showing off their stuff, a procession of Catholics honoring the Holy Mother, among many, many other parades, festivals, processions, and celebrations over just a few days in Spain.

I watched dancers from Sevilla showing off their stuff, a procession of Catholics honoring the Holy Mother, among many, many other parades, festivals, processions, and celebrations over just a few days in Spain.

And of course getting off the beaten path means mixing with the locals. While the conference attendees visit the amazing free breakfast buffet at the hotel, which was excellent, you have to venture out at least once before 8am and break fast with the locals.

A "mixto"... a ham and cheese breakfast sandwich, served at a noisy counter, is typical worker fare in the mornings, along with a beer. I had cafe... which is also excellent everywhere in Spain.

A “mixto”… a ham and cheese breakfast sandwich, served at a noisy counter, is typical worker fare in the mornings, along with a beer. I had cafe… which is also excellent everywhere in Spain. Put me back about $4 total.

Do I need to even mention the architecture? While the travel agents will show off Valencia’s amazing modern architecture (see below), I just walk around and touch the old stuff… we don’t have this in America.

Valencia is famous for it's modern Arts & Sciences district, with amazing architecture. But I liked the almost thousand year old stuff more...and it was everywhere.

Valencia is famous for it’s modern Arts & Sciences district, with amazing architecture. But I liked the almost thousand year old stuff more…and it was everywhere.

Pretty unbelievable that old relics sell at auction for millions, while carvings like this are in the public throughout Europe. Take a walk... you'll enjoy the view.

Pretty unbelievable that old relics sell at auction for millions, while carvings like this are in the public throughout Europe. Take a walk… you’ll enjoy the view.

So this is a bit about traveling to Spain for the European Domaining conference in Valencia. It’s not a brochure post… I am not a saleman nor a travel agent. It’s a post about some of the details I wanted to share… as an American with not-enough opportunity to visit Europe, I find this and other smaller, tightly-focused conferences to be priceless. While the Euro is low compared to the dollar, and everyone is speaking English, it’s a great opportunity and I recommend it.

If you plan to attend, drop me a note. I always plan before and after travel, and my primary focus of all of these trips is meeting the individuals actually doing the innovating behind the scenes on the Internet: the seos and entrepreneurs behind the domains. We have a lot in common and the opportunities for collaboration are endless right now.

 

 

Developing Developing Developing Developing…

My friend Peter Askew recently remarked about the power of “developing domains” to build audiences and achieve success:

domain-development-infographic

He was following up on a preior tweet where he showed traffic growth of an older dormant domain he has “revived”. The chart shows significant traffic success:

domain development for seo

This is what domainers call “development” and what SEO practitioners call “a website”. Development is a process… a technical process of building a web asset (in this case, on a domain). As the famous former Microsoft CEO Ballmer once chanted….

Well, close anyway. While Ballmer was courting software developers, Internet business people are courting audiences. Domain development is how audiences are earned. Domains are Internet assets which can be used to store a portion of the earned attention, at least for as long as search engines permit.

The Root SEO Problem, Often Overlooked

The reason Peter (and many domainers) referred to “development” is because before Google became a search monopoly, there were actually people who build web assets on domains without content. Compared to the performance of such minimally-developed domains, a developed domain thrives.

Domain parking was one pathway to content-free publishing, and SEO was another. Parking is largely gone now, and SEO remains as a form of competitive webmastering aka publishing.

The root problem, is the SEO marketplace. As SEO became valuable, various practitioners commoditized it and broke SEO into discrete pieces, to be executed a-la-carte as budgets allowed and profit margins recommended. In most cases, the most profitable parts of a web site search optimization (or “SEO”) were split off and sold as stand-alone services.

While website building (or “domain development”) was the true path to success, those other fast-money options were more attractive. Today, however, there are only a few known ways to draw an audience to a URL, and fewer to store that attention in the domain. A primary channel is search. But since search engines like Google became Internet monsters managing large portfolios of interconnected web properties, so did “search” become a massive traffic channel that spans beyond users searching on a search website like Google.com or Bing.com.

Me, Too Marketers Use Many Names

Oddly, even though there has been shake out and many SEO firms had to exit the audience-building business, some marketers still try to segment the marketplace for audience-building services, using new monikers like “Content Marketing” and “Inbound Marketing” and “Social Media“.

Isn’t this really just a case of marketing services?

When they tried to market just-one-part as “SEO”, they ramped up and crashed. The smart ones ramped up and cross-sold general services into the client base, but most “so-called-SEO firms” died.

The people behind them tried to do the same thing again, only selling something different. With “link building” and “guest posting” and “Content marketing” etc., but they, too, failed or are falling.

The reasons are obvious to insiders. SEO (or “competitive web site development”) requires a lot more than a tactic or two. Plus, one or two tactics executed out of proportion with the rest of publishing calls unwanted attention from the web spam police at Google.

The profits weren’t flowing much beyond an initial engagement for these folks, as tactics and methods failed to deliver promised performance.

Dear Domainers: It’s Called “Owned Media” Now

As marketers attempted to segment and label various facets of successful audience building around a reliable domain asset, they gave interesting names to the parts they understood. Earned Media, Social Media, Blogs, and now Owned Media.

What the marketing world is waking up to, and Peter is again demonstrating, is that Owned Media works. In other words, web sites work.

Developing Successful Web Sites is Hard Work

It should come as no surprise that developing good websites is hard work. It costs money, and labor. I might even be so brash as to suggest that the costs associated with web site development are proportional to the successes gained with audience-building, on average.

What else would you expect? As smart companies like Google build monopolies around Internet audiences and traffic, they assumed control of a significant portion of the profit associated with those audiences. Capitalism would have it no other way! Market efficiency, and all that. If you are ater Google’s traffic, in order to monetize it, then, I hate to have to remind you but…. Google is your biggest competitor.