Lost in the Crowd

I have a definite dose of the cynicisms at the moment.

The whole “post-truth”, “alternative facts” nonsense could very well have something to do with it. In some ways, I feel like this is a predictable result of swinging too far in the post-modernist “truth is relative”, “my interpretation is [just as/more] important than your intentions” school of thought.

The trouble is that reality is nuanced. I’d like to be able to make a blanket statement that this perspective is wrong, but that falls into the same trap of over-simplifying reality to save having to engage in critical thought.

When it comes to the “meaning” behind a piece of art—be it a novel, film, painting, sculpture, or whatever else—or a statement that someone has made (say, a political speech for example), it is important to recognise that different people will have different reactions to it. Everyone brings their own opinions, history, understanding, and perspectives to bear when they take in something. That’s why things like innuendoes or inside jokes work; some people will interpret them differently than others. And (assuming people of generally sound mind), multiple interpretations are valid.

As an example, a few years ago there was some debate about censoring the “n-word” in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer—what was considered acceptable parlance has changed, and a modern reader likely brings additional baggage. I don’t have a strong inclination one way or the other (as a relative outsider), but I do think it’s an important discussion to have. Values dissonance can have quite an impact on how one views a story/character. A Shakespearean character who spouts “zounds!” and the like comes across to modern readers as quaint, when for the time that may have been considered offensive language.

Not everything is this open to interpretation, however. You may be able to say anything with statistics, but you cannot change the underlying data. Some things are true, some things are false, and some things are ineffable.

I don’t know any politicians personally, so it would be extremely arrogant of me to make statements about their beliefs or attitudes. Recent experience has shown me that in any large group of people, there can be vast differences in attitude towards an issue, even among those who take the same “side”.

That said, I find the recent actions of certain newly-minted state leaders to be very worrying. They may be done with good intentions towards improving the lives of their citizens, but they seem to be giving entirely the wrong impression in terms of being confrontational, alienating, and divisive; emboldening to bigots both domestic and foreign.

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) has been posting interesting explanations of the negotiation and persuasion tactics behind certain decisions, and recently pointed out that—by pushing lots of controversial things through in a short space of time—one can undermine strong protests about any of them (as the opponents have too many things to complain about). Like John Key and flags, however, I’m left wondering what else has gone on that’s been overlooked in the rush.

We are in for interesting times. Kia kaha.

Cynical Idealism

aka How You Can Make Money Blogging

Bearing in mind, this isn’t any formal methodology, just my conclusions from observations; the process is as follows:

  1. Start a blog
  2. Add a few posts/pages, making sure to include plenty of buzzwords about the amazing secrets of making easy money on the internet, growing your business, online “presence”, etc. etc.
  3. Conclude each with some form of “sign up/contact me to learn more!”
  4. Establish an advertising deal (easy to request, regardless of blog status), of the “money per page views” variety
  5. “Follow” any and all other blogs that have relevant tags, probably done automatically. This all but ensures you get the “oh, a new follower—I wonder what their blog is like” traffic
  6. Don’t bother ever reading the blogs you follow, or updating your own with interesting new content. That’s too much like effort
  7. Similarly spam comments and so forth anywhere and everywhere—anything that gets you traffic
  8. (ethically dubious) profit!

What’s that? I’m giving away your secrets? This is akin to revealing a pickpocket’s secrets, not a companies proprietary methods.

😡

Okay, rant over. It’s just encouraging to be told you have blog followers, then irritating to realise that at least half of them have never even looked at any of your posts. So, lest this entry be overwhelmed by irate cynicism, I’m going to defer to my idealistic side for a bit.

How You Should Make Money Blogging

(Assuming the content of your blog isn’t about promoting your company in some way shape or form, because there the blog is an auxiliary, not the main focus.)

Sure, have an advertising deal. Sure, try to increase the page views of your blog. But do it by posting interesting content. Stuff that teaches readers something. That gets them thinking about a subject in a different way. That stimulates interesting conversations. But most importantly, reflects you (the author) and what you’re interested in and passionate about. Let your posts be an authentic expression of your thoughts.

And quality will out. The blogs that have good content will get more views. Ones that don’t will be less-frequented (I don’t want to say forgotten, because they may well have their niches).

Is that too much to hope for?