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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.

Developing Developing Developing Developing…

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


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 or

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.

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