I want to get one more post in before putting RT on ice for the last couple of weeks of the summer. I’ve been debating what I should write about.
The obvious choice would be something about Wikipedia – maybe a look at the Battista Agnese entry and what it might tell us about the role of plagiarism in Wikipedia’s creation and success. How prevalent is plagiarism in Wikipedia? Is it a question we even care about? Is plagiarism itself some bourgeois pre-Internet taboo that we’re just as well to be rid of?
Good questions, but I’m going to have to leave them for others. If I ride the Wikipedia horse any longer, I’m going to have to take the old nag out back and shoot it.
Or I could do a follow up to my post yesterday about the system of patronage that has come to characterize the upper ranks of the blogosphere. I think there’s something to be said as well about the blogosphere’s cult of personality and whether it’s a strength or a weakness. T.S. Eliot famously wrote that “poetry is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality.” Is that true of all good writing? Is it true of journalism? It’s awfully hard to escape personality in the blogosphere.
But that’s pretty eggheaded stuff. I mean, “escape personality”? WTF?
I’ve also been meaning to write a post arguing that the dynamic that defines the way news stories are chosen at Digg is the same dynamic that defines video-game competition. The top Diggers frag the news with the same speed and dexterity that the top gamers frag baddies. It’s all about maximizing the killcount. Is it any coincidence that the demographics of the Digg audience match so closely the demographics of the first-person-shooter audience?
But I don’t have time for that one right now. Let it be noted, though: “fragging the news” is my idea. A search on the term in Google turns up nothing. That’s a rare pleasure. One of the tragic things about Google is that it reminds us daily how unoriginal we are.
No, I’m going to write about something important: My prediction that having a public service AdSense ad on your site will become the new mark of hipness. All cool sites are going to want to have those little text ads about hurricane relief or whatever. In case you don’t know, Google sticks public service ads in AdSense slots whenever the content gets a little too risque, a little too naughty, for its taste. A public service AdSense ad basically screams out: Read this page!
I realized this recently while reading Fake Steve’s blog, which in addition to being nut-bustingly funny offers the most insightful critique of modern technoculture mores I’ve come across. It makes ValleyWag look like, well, ValleyWag. (Memo to Real Steve: Please please please don’t take down Fake Steve. You can have the “pod” trademark. You can have the music monopoly. Hell, you can backdate all the options you want. Just let us have Fake Steve.)
Anyway, I’ve noticed that Fake Steve has had the “Gulf Hurricane Relief” ad at the top of his site for days on end now, probably as a result of his classic series on the infamous Yelp party (here, here, here, and here). The ad is just perfect – it is as great an example of advertising as content as I’ve ever seen. Fake Steve has, intentionally or not, singehandedly revealed the coolness inherent in the Google public service ad.
I want one of those ads on my site, too. But I’m not edgy enough. I get ads for freaking JotSpot and Blogger.
UPDATE: Needed to take a break from vacation to report that Fake Steve pumped up the size of the Google PSA on his home page today, signaling his slavish devotion to Rough Type. The bigger news, though, is that, thanks to reader Sid Steward, Rough Type now has its own customized PSA:
Top that, Fake Steve!
Sid says that you can easily stick this ad on your own site, giving you a faux gloss of edginess while also promoting Rough Type. A nifty two-fer. Make it viral.
UPDATE 2 (August 25): I regret to announce that Fake Steve has lost his edginess. The PSAs are gone, replaced this morning by Google ads for “Bible Ringtone,” Jesus Ringtone,” “Shepherds Care Publishing,” and “101 PowerPoint Sermons.” No joke.