two 3d humans with empty chat and idea bubbles

Quality Content and Quality Conversation

April 2, 2018|Posted in: Uncategorized

I met this guy over the weekend (no, not in a bar; we were at the Collaboration Fest Craft Beer Festival in Denver. Which I suppose is kind of like a bar. But not really. Anyway …). He’s an internet marketing consultant who lives over in Oakland and went to school near Loma Linda. I learned this in the first five minutes, because those are the ice-breaker type questions one usually asks within five minutes of meeting someone.

The idea behind ice-breaker questions, however, is that they’re supposed to be an opening salvo that leads into the real conversation. Apparently, this guy (we’ll call him Kirk, so I don’t have to keep saying “this guy) didn’t get that memo, and for the next half-hour I heard everything there was to know about optimizing web sites so as to move them into the (and I quote) “Optimal Experience Paradigm.”


At first I tried to listen and respond, because–again–that is the way convos are supposed to happen. He found out I had this teeny tiny website, and we talked a little about it. I expressly mentioned that it was something I had on the side where I could voice my sometimes-vehement opinions without cluttering up my Twitter account. It’s no big thing.

But he launched into this whole spiel about all the ways I could leverage and monetize my web presence and add affiliate marketing and become this, like, internet slum lord or something … if I just followed his advice. He kept talking about eCommerce and trillion-dollar opportunities and what all … started sounding like late-night radio evangelist after a while.

Still, I tried to stay with him as he explained the (myriad) steps I would need to take. But what made me pull the ripcord on the conversation was when he explained that what I posted was irrelevant, just so long as I posted something, and that it had links and keywords.

And I thought, you have SO not been paying attention.

I don’t consider myself a particularly good writer, but when I write something down, I do so with the belief that it will be read. That is WHY I write: I’m not trying to make millions off my website. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, if that’s what you want to do … just that I have a site for different reasons.

Having said that … (Warning! Impending Opinion! Danger, Will Robinson!)

One of my biggest hang-ups with the internet in general is that there is too much stuff on there, and the bulk of it is just WORDS. I’m not one of these people who think my stuff is gold and everybody else’s is horse-hockey: I’m all about having a place to share one’s point of view, even if it’s completely different from mine and so inelegantly written that you look for the crayon marks on the keyboard.

We’ve probably put more words into public access in the last ten years than in the four or five centuries since Gutenberg first got high on printer’s ink. And face it: a lot of the stuff we put out there is cotton candy.

The real problem is, even more of it is just plain cotton: you know, like in the top of an aspirin bottle? Meaningless white fluff that does nothing except get between you and the thing you’re really after. It’s just noise.

You could argue that the cotton in a pill bottle serves a purpose: it keeps the pills in place so they don’t break. And you could argue that writing junk internet articles serves a purpose, too–if done correctly, it drives SEO, it provides links, it boosts a site’s presence. Yeah. Maybe.

But it still is just air. And it makes me wonder how much BETTER it would do all of those things if there was some meat to the content–something that made a person want to revisit the site later. I can’t help but believe that these empty or redundant internet posts are really just taking up space when they should be at least leading to something more meaningful. Just like I can’t help but believe that going on and on about an irrelevant subject is one technique people use to prevent a simple question from leading to a meaningful conversation.

Like how I came full circle on that?