I don’t believe in the word CAN’T because it implies that one can predict the future. To know that you CAN’T do something is to accept a static future; to deny change. It suggests fate. I deny fate. And so, I deny the word CAN’T based simply on the fact that one can’t ever know for certain whether or not one might be able to do something until one tries, and even then, there might always be a second try, right? Notice the ironic use of the word CAN’T in that sentence. Pheh.
So when competing on the web as a webmaster, I rarely say something CAN’T be done. Instead, I say I prefer not to attempt it.
In a goal-oriented world, wisdom preserves resources. You COULD spend all of your effort competing against a super tough competitor, but if you are goal-oriented, the only time that would be wise is if the goal were simply to win. A contest, perhaps, or bragging rights where the bragging rights would bring you other riches. But what about when your competitor is not so goal-oriented? What if your competitor is process oriented? What if your competitor is someone who simply exists to compete, such that competing with you IS the goal? You’ll never win against that guy. Just by engaging him, he achieves his goal. If he has infinite resources relative to yours, you will never win. It is unwise to engage him in battle.
Enter Wikipedia. WikiSoldiers build the wiki because they like the process. They are driven by the process. They work for free. They steal content, violate terms of agreements, and do whatever they want in order to simply “build the wiki”. They operate under a different set of rules, and Google permits Wikipedia pages to rank highly in the search results. How do you compete with that?
Of course I have ways to try, because there must always be ways to try, but it isn’t very wise to try very hard. Thankfully, as the economy does its thing, Wikipedia will either go away, become irrelevant, or present opportunities for monetization. I think I’ll wait for that. Better to wait than die trying.