Friday, January 28, 2011

unintended consequences

While we were all starry eyed about the wonders of the interwebs, and clearly not paying attention, we got stuck with this:

"Content": not to be confused with news
"Content farms": worse still
"Search Engine Optimization": the death of news as we know it?

All of this has to do with the news that Demand Media, which defines "content" in terms of how high a story will play on Google searches and pays writers less than twenty bucks per assignment, has gone public. If that's not enough to make you cringe, TechCrunch reports that the parasitic company is now valued at $1.5 billion:

Today, for example, I wanted to write something about Demand Media’s IPO. Given the hideously cynical nature of their business, the dreck that passes for their content, the appallingly low rates paid to their writers (who have – apparently – created $1.5bn worth of value) and now a plagiarism scandal (wait – they don’t even write their own dreck?), it’s clear that Demand is a hideous company. In fact it’s absolutely no exaggeration whatsoever to say that buying shares in them is the web content equivalent of buying stock in Nestle Africa or stocking up on Fanta in the 1940s. I mean, yes, there’s clearly money to be made, but I wouldn’t want that kind of karma.

In honor of the above, Tech Crunch links to a spoof by Danny Sullivan of what the NYTimes front page would look like, Demand Media style. It will make you laugh until, of course, you realize that the joke is on us. bk

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