The Microwave Society

When I was a child, there was a TV advertisement that strongly attracted my attention: It was a microwave commercial. I can’t recall the brand, but vaguely remember what they said. It was something like this:

“Defrosting chicken, 4 minutes. Heating food: 2 minutes. Boiling water: 15 seconds”

Time durations are invented, I can’t remember them exactly.

Wow! How fast!“, I told myself. In those times, latest ’80s, microwaves were not very known, at least in the Canaries, and were more considered luxury stuff. But it wasn’t that what I found hard to believe. I rememeber my mother putting the chicken to defrost on the kitchen sink in the early morning, to start cooking it at midday; if I were to boil water for an infusion it took me at least 3 or 4 minutes in our gas cooker. So, was the advertisement telling the true? How could it be so fast?

Unfortunately, that was a bad omen: Not only cooking would speed up (with the arrival of microwaves): Everything did. People want to do everything quicker. And among this hustle and bustle, one asks oneself why: to save more time? more time to do more things quicker? 😉 It’s supposed that, in the end, you’ll have more spare time, but I’ve seen many people having fun in a hurry during their spare time, not knowing very well why, putting the foot on the accelerator all the time…

We live in a microwave society, a more and more vibrating one, of which symptoms are now moving into the blogosphere. If something requires time, few people take the trouble to try it.

The Power of Linking II

In a previous post I mentioned how suggestive is the power of the link and the ego. A good way of promoting your blog is making other people to link you from a popular site or from a news one. Digg is a site that promotes (or penalizes) news in a colaborative way. Not long a go, a Spanish clone of Digg, Menéame and a little later Fresqui went out. At first sight, the former is more popular, though the later is getting closer, as you can see in this comparative profile.

The idea behind Digg, Menéame and similiar sites is interesting: People vote news and when they reach certain amount of them they get published (they go to the front page). This way it’s supposed the most interesting news for The Community go out. The main difference between Digg and the Spanish clones are these allows anonymous votes. Apart of that, they work in a very similar way.

One expects that subscribing to Menéame RSS feed, for example, you could have an up to date incoming interesting and fresh news feed. But, again, the ego, the power of linking and the vibrating competition could drive this system into corruption and to die from success.

When a story is sent, if it’s voted it will get published, and the source site will get many visits, and thus, become popular. Due to the power of the link, to that compulsion of the ego to become popular, to get more attention to itself with some kind of narcissism, many stories are sent to that sites expecting to get more visits. Actually, the story is the least important thing here. In some cases, it even is not a true story. The authors (the senders) want to be voted and visited. But there’s another problem in this shaking environment: Stories must not be duplicate (already sent by someone), so the first in sending it wins (that is: his/her story gets published in the front page, the others discarded).

These causes many duplicate stories. This is not a problem, since the system has filtering mechanisms, but shows the tendency of senders to replicate stories from other sources instead of creating original content. Some of them don’t even rewrite the story (I’m not going to link some examples here, but I’m sure some people will feel I’m talking about them). They simply cut & paste the story and then link to the original source (usually a true electronic newspaper). Is this the up and coming Digital Journalism? To be honest, I then prefer reading the original source (generally written by a true reporter, you know, those who studied for it), rather than a crude plagiarism of a teenager with a strong desire of popularity (which, in case of getting it, would be unfair) and, what is worse, with spelling mistakes (WTF?? if you copy it, at less do it well).

In the Microwave Society things go fast, and if something is not done in 5 minutes, it’s abandoned: it is not worth the hassle. Creating original content takes TIME. And when you create original content and it’s a good one, the rest of those self entitled “digital reporters”, will simply copy you, they will replicate you and, in some manner, takes part of your merited popularity away. Menéame is full of examples of this, links to silly things, stupid video-sketches an other “news”, whilst other good stories remain hidden under surface. Later, some BlogStar (someone considered a guru in the blogosphere) sends the same previously ignored story and this time it reachs the front page. Why did it reach the front page? Is that the proof of the power of someone with popularity and “his/her” community? Some people seems to get really upset because of this.

Giving a glance to this example (in Spanish) and reading comments below we realize that actually the story is the least important thing. We can read comments about how duplicate it is or who really was the first in sending it, but nothing about its content. And what about the genuine story (the one sended first)? Yet again, the comments are not related to the story, but to the power of the Link. They’re about the effect of the publication, and the “menéame effect” (See Slashdot Effect in the previous post).

I found Menéame an interesting social experiment. Many people taking part there denounce state corruption, fraud, deceptive advertising in the media, and so on and so forth… but they themselves use the same dirty tricks in the blogosphere. How hypocritical!

In conclusion…

What cames out from the related post ant this one, from my humble point of view is:

  1. Many bloggers are not even interested in what they publish, but in how many visits they will get for publishing that story (and yes, the ego and the desire of popularity are behind this).
  2. From the above, we realize that sometimes is more important why a story is published or who did it that the topic iself.
  3. Creating original content takes time. Nowadays, few people takes time and effort in the blogosphere (especially younger people don’t). Really original content is poor and scarce.
  4. When a story is replicated very much it should be considered important within the community, and the level of replication a measure of impact. Before it was the linking level (PageRank), but today this measure should be the copy itself (and, if I’m true, Google could already be using thins in Google News).

A final suggestion

If you want your blog to become popular, work for it. As stated before, making original content takes time and some effort. It’s hard to maintain a high posting rate creating original content. Don’t try your site to become a news site like Slashdot or Digg. Maintaining that posting rate is impossible. Behind those sites there is a huge commuity of users and not a single person. Communities don’t have ego, they’re a mass of people. Most people read sites like Digg or Slashdot and then jumps to the source of the story. But rarely do they “hook” to the a cut & paste blog. If someone really finds your blog interesting, it’s because it has original content (usually on a topic), or likes you or your opinions (not others ones).

It’s ok to “copy” and link a story, but it would be much better if you comment on it and show your point of view (this is the original content you can contribute) instead of just cut and paste it with no more added information. When you comment a story from your blog, you should link it and, if possible, send a trackback. An summary of your post will appear as a comment on the source story blog. That’s the way the blogosphere builds up. People who read the source story will read your comment and, if they find it insteresting, will visit your blog. So you have your link.

  1. Muy bueno el post.
    Aunque a mi lo que más me llamó la atención de la llegada del microondas fue lo de “matar al gato, 20 segundos…”

    Saludos, yo no me preocupo tanto por el tema, ya que me parece que mientras existan blogs como el de Boriel estaremos “salvados”. Lo malo de internet es que surgen miriadas de “oportunistas”, pero de igual forma nos da la posibilidad de crear rincones como éste. Hay muchos, sólo hay que buscarlos y obviar los más populares-populistas-copialinks-traducenoticias y demás.
    Esta claro que las tendencias sociales se traspasan a internet, y en una sociedad tan competitiva pues internet se ve más como una herramienta para conseguir tus propósitos (los que sean) que otra cosa. Lo cual, es perfectamente legítimo dados nuestros valores.

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  2. ¿Verdad? Yo también tengo esa misma sensación.

    Respecto a lo que comentas, yo uso Firefox para visualizar y mantener este blog. Lo del botón deshabilitado es por el plugin de seguridad antispam que uso, WP-HashCash.

    Entre otras cosas necesita JavaScript habilitado, para poder funcionar (o te desactiva el botón). 🙁

    Lamento las molestias. En breve me pondré en contacto contigo.

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  3. Impresionante artículo, felicidades.

    Estoy totalmente deacuerdo en todo lo citado en el artículo. En la internet hispana (decir blogosfera me da repelús), lo que más importa es el “quién copia primero la noticia”. Es como una carrera a ver quién llega primero, y el segundo es el gran derrotado. Incluso recuerdo alguna batallita entre bloggers porque no se ponían de acuerdo en quién puso el enlace primero.

    Si hay algo que nos diferencie realmente a los hispanos de los sajones, en lo que a internet respecta, es precisamente eso… mientras los sajones crean contenido, los hispanos copiamos, o traducimos en el mejor de los casos.

    Y no has podido expresar mejor cuál es el causante de esa falta de “creatividad”… el tiempo. Algo que tenemos, pero de lo que no queremos desprendernos.

    Un saludo.

    PD: He tenido que escribir esto desde Internet Explorer, porque en Firefox se queda deshabilitado el botón de enviar… Te lo cuento por si te interesa que los Firefoxeros te enviemos comentarios 😉

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  4. […] En el rincón de Boriel veo un post muy interesante de lo que está pasando con los blogs, el “meneo” y la importancia de las noticias aparentemente interesantes para todos. Estos días se habla de la guerra del ego y desde luego Boriel se aproxima bastante bien al candente tema que personalmente, me preocupa bastante ultimamente. […]

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  5. Como dice Benjamí, la idea original de su diseño es el ideal, el problema es el uso que le den después los usuarios que puede no ir parejo al concepto original. En cualquier caso tu aproximación a la realidad es bastante acertada Boriel. Me ha gustado mucho el enfoque que le has dado al asunto, y que Benjamí lo aclare. Gracias a los dos 🙂

    Un saludo cordial

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  6. Evidentemente, mi punto de vista sobre menéame (no sé sobre Fresqui u otros) estaba equivocado. 😐

    Gracias Benjamí, por la aclaración. 😉

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  7. Dices: «Viendo este ejemplo y leyendo los comentarios de la comunidad, observamos que, en realidad, la noticia es lo de menos. Podemos leer comentarios acerca de lo duplicada que está, de si yo publiqué primero o fuiste tú, pero no del contenido. ¿Y en la noticia “original”? Los comentarios, igualmente, no van sobre el contenido de la noticia sino, nuevamente, de el poder del enlace.»

    ¡Está bien que sea así! Es lo que pensamos Ricardo y yo al hacer el montaje. Cuando pensamos en si vale o no la pena mejorar los mecanismos de comentarios, lo hacemos pensando en que nos gustan más los comentarios en el lugar mencionado y no en el menéame.

    Los comentarios en el menéame deberían ser para el proceso de selección de la noticia: lo que todos, convertidos en editores, tienen que comentar sobre el proceso de selección. Los comentarios sobre el tema de la noticia deberían ser en los blogs, para los autores. No para el menéame, que sólo avisa que está ahi –y los usuarios discuten si conviene o no avisar.

    No siempre es así, y muchas veces se habla del tema de la noticia. Las herramientas son como queréis los usuarios, no los autores 🙂

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