Thus begins a blog about competing on the web. Innovating, researching, analyzing, and most importantly ACTING to achieve specific goals using the Internet as a playground, webtools as instruments, and language as navigation. It’s the world’s greatest word game. You can play like you play charades (acting out), or scrabble (careful crafting), or monopoly (cunning trading) but no matter how you choose to play, you will find yourself competing with everyone else. Ultimate Fighting has nothing over SEO and competitive webmastering.
The above paragraph was my first post to JohnOn.com back in July of 2006, over 13 years ago. I think my conceptual framework of “competitive webmastering” remains true to this day. While the web has evolved into a massive platform, not one entity has yet been able to lock up the platform aspect of the world wide web into a monopoly.
Many have tried. Facebook, Google, WordPress, Yahoo, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft…. all tried in one or more ways to redirect the wind of growth into their own sails.
As of 2019, not one has succeeded. But they have very much goten in the way and hindered evolution, interfered with innovation, removed the economic drivers of creativity and tech progress, and pretty much become pains in the asses of “webmasters” trying to help the web evolve.
Perhaps the most obvious make-a-mess-rather-than-contribute pertains to the public discussions aspect of the www as a platform.
Today, we dispatch short, pretty much stateless text messages to the world, via Twitter. It’s lazy blogging, with low commitment, low overhead, and super low connectivity.
But that status quo followed on the heels of failed efforts by Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Microsoft, and others to host and foster discussions. Oftentimes, if they couldn’t own it, they acted to interfere with it. In the case of Google, the literally invested serious efforts into destroying it.
These days, the tech giants are more interested in manipulating public discussion than fostering it. I guess they’ve discovered the sweet taste of corruption funding. Perhaps they are addicted.
Competitive Webmastering is still very much a profession, and one I remain actively engage in as a professional. If there’s one thing that these aggressors have been unable to tame, it is the hands-on aspect of controlling the presentation of the messages.
And that is the core of webmastering. Publishing to the web. Not just to Google, or to Facebook, or to Twitter…but to the world wide web, which is accessed billions of times per hour by people, using all sorts of devices connected to the internet.
You can cite the 500 million people who use Instagram every day, or 360 million who use Facebook, or the 100+ million who use Twitter… but you have to admit they also access the world wide web outside of their app.
If you told the major IGers that their content would not be accessible outside of the IG app, they would very much consider other-than-IG avenues for content distribution, because their followers are on the web, too.
The competition was about traffic, then it was about attention & engagement, and then advertising, and now branding and influencing… but these are all just stepping stones along the paths that lead to the world wide web.
Today, for the first time in what seems like years, I search Google for regional / local insider information, and found a plethora of current, factual, editorial content that directly answered my interests. It was published by people with on-the-ground experience, who specifically published (wrote, photographed, drew, and explained) informative content on the issues about which I inquired.
Google can do that. It has not wanted to do that for the past few years, for some reasons I don’t know, but it is doing it again right now and it works.
As I searcher, I am rewarded. I appreciate the content and its presentation.
Maybe… if Google continues to allow this again… I will start to remember some of the web sites that I enjoyed. Maybe I will start to recognize the writers who made the good content.
Maybe someone will make (again) some tech that smartly saves the website URLs I decide are worthy of repeat visits. Maybe someone will (again) make a really simple syndication system to increase reach and exposure. Maybe someone else will make good tools (again) for making sure published content is properly coded, accessible, and distributable.
We had excellent publishing tools before Google and others bought them to shut them down and get them out of the way.
Imagine if someone actually started working on a way that individual people in the public could actually add their own comments to published content! That could be amazing, if done right.
I wonder if Google and WordPress would allow it.