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What A Piece Of Junk

Mon, 11/02/2009 - 11:13am
by David Mantey, Editor, PD&D

Professionally, I’ve always considered myself a fairly progressive and forward-looking individual.

Not the smoke and mirrors forward-looking that you can find at the bottom of nine out of 10 “news stories” that cross the wires, but the type that looks at something new and either sees value or, I see it as a potentially never-ending crevasse into which we will always be able to dive, but no amount of money will ever cushion the fall.

I imagine a real life enactment of Scrooge McDuck (Uncle Scrooge, if you will) diving into the pile of gold. But when we jump into the gold-filled sink hole, we splatter on the coins or, in the event that they have yet to settle firmly into place, we fly through them into the beyond (it just seemed easier on the imagination than alluding to additional splatter imagery).

You want spatter, read the Times – enough for semi-political conversation and more violence than anything produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. If I think the fashionably new toy could add value, I follow up with, “let’s give it a shot,” or, “Yes, but how?” (And sometimes, Why?)

Twitter? Let’s try it.

Facebook? Why not? (A work in progress.)

LinkedIn? Individually, yes.

Reddit, Delicious, Digg, Slashdot? Yes, yes, yes. Subscribe, post, vote, share, blog. Jump on the bandwagon, or depending on the vehicle, let it pass (MySpace). PD&D is not a band with a playlist, so I don’t see a need for another MySpace deluge. What would be on the Engineer Rock playlist other than the Matrix soundtrack?

I’d ask when enough is enough, but if you or I haven’t realized that the answer is “never” well, let’s just say that the pasture won’t be a lonely place.

In a matter of time, I’ll be wandering out there with many of you after I simply run out of time to post, or my hands close and refuse to ever open again after years of repeated key-pounding carpal tunnel-inducing abuse. I helped my brother paint a single room this weekend and my hand remained locked as though I was clutching the Holy Grail for the following hour. Since when did I need a cool down after the remedial task?

After 350 words of head-scratching babble, you may be asking yourself what set me off on a rant spiraling into the nonsensical. It was just that: junk content. I just read an article on Wired.com (via Folio) regarding a content generation company that is flooding the internet with content that is in demand.

An algorithm mines keywords to see what people are searching, and another refines it into something that won’t land on the fifth Google page. I believe the article quoted one of the most valuable phrases as “How to Donate a Car in Dallas.” Really gripping stuff.

However, instead of using this info to develop something of more use than a top 10 or a quick one minute how-to video, Demand Media pays an army of freelance videographers and writers to shoot or write the piece as fast as possible and submit it for a nominal fee - $15 for an article, $20 for a video. And you thought the internet lacked credibility before?

That’s right, even the written word can be manufactured. Sure, it’s a step above the poem generators some of my peers attempted to use in college (tell me more about the chrome spider mosque), but as we have seen, volume is not the answer. Just because the customer finds you first, doesn’t mean you’re giving them what they need. If I’m in the online market for a DVD player, I’m not sure that “Free DVD Player Software: audio, video, DVD player for free” is going to have what I am looking for. 

I find it similar to the dollar and how one of our new national pastimes is printing money. When I was a kid and the family was strapped, I would ask, “Well Ma, why don’t we just print more money?”

She replied, “Well, then it wouldn’t have any value, would it?”

I didn’t understand and went to my doodle pad with a crumpled dollar to begin my own Crayola-sponsored illegal printing press. I soon understood once it was legal for me to stock toothpaste and deodorant for minimum wage.

I wasn’t in a sweatshop at 14, but try to keep your middle school cool when your friends visit you while you’re stocking the feminine hygiene section. Slick the hair back as far as it can go, there is no such thing as James Dean cool when you smell like baby powder.

Look Ma, my box of 50 wax colors and I apparently could have had a role in the past two administrations. No money? Print it. 

And $15 an article? I’ll pass, I can make that stocking tampons for two hours at the local grocer, and somehow I’ll actually feel as though I’m doing the world a service — at least making the community a better place.

Volume may seem to be a present solution, but if being oversaturated by the growing junk piles of techno garbage have taught us anything, it is that volume is not the long term answer.

Do you agree? Or am I nuts? Either way, I’ll take a pill and set down the coffee while I await your response. As always, the inbox punching bag can be found by clicking david.mantey@advantagemedia.com. If only I had one more sport-related cliché, that would really knock it out of the park. Yeah, I did.

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