In controversial move, Google recommends shutting down blogs

BREAKING: Google’s Webspam Team Recommends Taking Down Your Blog To Avoid Penalization

It was revealed today in an exclusive, as-yet-unpublished interview with Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan that Google has adopted even stricter policies toward webspam than have been seen over the past few turbulent months.

After announcing hard-line policies against Infographic links, warning about guest post schemes and continuing to beat the drum for the ongoing Penguin algorithm refinements, it was communicated that Google has a new recommendation for website owners looking to stay on Google’s good side.

Cutts Speaks Out

Speaking candidly, Google’s Matt Cutts explained, “Google has recognized that the great majority of webspam takes place on blogs across the web. By our estimates, over 95% of manipulative linking originates from blogs.”

Continuing, Cutts explained, “We’ve also become concerned by the manipulative content creation we’ve seen out there – it seems that blog owners are writing all sorts of low quality content in attempts to manipulate the long-tail. Other site owners have produced content like guides, how-to’s, editorials and so on that are then being linked to from other blogs and media outlets; this type of manipulative behaviour has an adverse impact on rankings and is something we intend to address. Clearly, blogs must go.

Cutts then, completely calm and straight-faced, relayed the following recommendation: “Site owners, if you want to avoid coming under Google’s scrutiny, take down your blogs or implement “noindex, nofollow”. Just remove them from the internet, and never bring them back.”

When asked what kinds of content remained acceptable, Cutts, agitated, replied: “Direct mail.”

He closed the conversation by warning of an algorithm update coming later this year. “It’s going to be a cold, cold winter for bloggers.”

Click here for the latest on this story as it develops.

So much for “Don’t be evil”, right guys?

Posted In: Other Stuff

90 Seconds or Less: Why Smart Writers Will Stop Writing Blog Posts

There’s a few things I’ve learned incredibly quickly as I make my foray into full-time copywriting:

1. There’s an unbelievable demand for blog posts, and

2. Smart writers will avoid making blog posts a big part of their offering if they can.

Why?

Perceived value.

When I’m approached by a company to do their website copy, their perceived value is high. This will be their longer-term, client-facing presence for the foreseeable future. It’s important that it come across the right way.

A client asking me for copy like that cares less about how many hours it’s going to take me and more about what the end product is going to be. Let’s imagine I bill them $950 for a 7 page website (not at all unreasonable). It may take me 4 hours or 20 hours – they don’t care. We’ve priced for value to them. We’ve priced for my skills, not my down-to-the-minute time.

Same goes for bigger, more important content pieces, ad campaigns and so on.

Blogs are (usually) the opposite.

If someone wants me to write up well researched, reasonably lengthed blog posts for their website on an ongoing basis, I’m going to be absolutely pulling teeth 9/10 times to get somebody to pay me even $100 per piece.

This is because to most clients, the value of a blog post is seen as low and the writing process is poorly understood. People tend to assume blog posts erupt from writers’ fingers spontaneously, without any time spent researching, planning or organizing. (For more on how this actually works, see: What Happens Before Writers Write?)

As such, there’s this weird prevailing thought that writers should be able to crank out high quality, share-worthy posts in an hour.

Even if it takes me the same amount of time to write a 3,000 word blog post as it does a small website, the perceived value is lower. Add in the recent epidemic of SEO’s who are only looking for mass quantities of content they can rocket launch all over the web, and blog posting starts looking a lot less attractive long-term.

If you get a client who values your talent and experience as it is applied to blogs, stick with them. Love them forever. Thank them for being against-the-norm and give them your best work. But if you want to be writing bigger, better paying jobs, it’s best not to let blogging eat up the bulk of your writing time.

I’m not trying to bite the hand that feeds – right now, blog posts and articles help keep food on my table. And if you love the subject matter (or the client), it’s a great revenue stream.

But I’d be a damned fool if I wasn’t trying to target more of those higher-value projects.

Wouldn’t I?

 P.s. I hope I didn’t scare you off! If you want me to write cool things for you (blog posts included), head over to Business Casual Copywriting.

 

Posted In: Other Stuff

Counterpoint: Why I Will Always Ask You To Share My Content

My good buddy Dan Shure wrote a piece today about how he won’t ever ask anyone to share his content. It’s pretty compelling, you can check it out here (and should, since you won’t have a sweet clue what I’m rambling on about if you don’t).

In summary, Dan makes the following points:

  1. That shares are the one true metric he has for gauging whether his content is really excellent or not. Why ask people to share  if they don’t actually find value in it? You’ll just dilute your perception of whether or not your content really is great.
  2. That great content will get shared because it’s so great. Well, actually, because so many people will find value in it that they’d like to share it of their own accord.
And those are nice points – you don’t want to feel like your content only got shared because you asked. Except that I vehemently disagree with his overarching point. I think asking people to share your content is a good thing, and here’s why:

1. Because getting the ball rolling and earning honest feedback are not mutually exclusive ideas.

Really, they’re not. Have you ever spent time on Reddit? There’s some amazing content that will never, ever see the light of day because a few key people decided to downvote or ignore it. Does that mean the content sucked? No, it just means there was nobody there to help out in the critical moment it needed a push start.

I am part of the “underground share asking” Dan talks about for the sole reason that having advocates for your content can help make great content visible. I know who pushed the car, but where it goes after that is entirely up to the community who comes into contact with it via my “first-sharers”.

I can still get that critical feedback Dan wants so badly!

In fact, I’ll probably get MORE of it, since MORE people will be exposed to my writing. The fact that a few friends shared it out on my behalf doesn’t taint the fact that people have brains. If my content stinks, sharing will begin and end with my friend circle.

2. Because good friends will tell you your content sucks.

The peer group that I vet my writing through has the ability to tell me something blows donkey chestnuts instead of sharing it out. For as much as it’s an amplifier, it’s also a sounding board. If I write a real stinker, these are the first people to tell me that it needs work.

In fact, I’ll often bounce my pieces off them before sharing to ensure my content WILL BE the best content I can possibly put out instead of hitting “publish” and just hoping somebody influencial stumbles across it and falls in love.

Not sharing out your content is like hiding in your basement and expecting Prince(ss) charming to come crashing through your window and propose.

It’s a bad idea.

So share your content. Build a peer group. Vet your pieces through them – and when they’re ready, share the crap out of them for each other and let the community at large decide.

Or, sit twiddling your thumbs and pray for greatness. The choice is yours.

Posted In: Personal Ramblings

90 Seconds or Less: How SEO Got Into This Mess (And How It’ll Get Out)

When it comes to writing, less is more. In 90 seconds, here’s how SEO got into this mess and how I think it’ll get out.

Early Days:

1. Early search algorithms are easy to game.

2. Businesses slowly wise up to $EO, creating a market. 

3. Few skills are needed to succeed for copycats & “me-toos”. Opportunists with little marketing experience move in.

4. Rankings, traffic are primary SEO metrics. Rankings become synonymous with SEO; services are sold on this premise. SEO is perceived as tech work lumped in with “online marketing” – little marketing is actually done.

2002 – 2010: The Golden Era

5. Google’s algo has holes they can’t fix short-term. Warning shots are fired via PR and TOS. Content is supposed to be king, links are. Few punishments happen.

6. Link signals are easy to game; success can be systematized (so it is). Few clients know enough to investigate work quality. 

7. Competitive SERPs become a linking arms-race, creating an industry-wide mindset of quickly scaling link building. Industry becomes addicted to “tactics”.

2011: Google’s Warpath Begins

8. JC Penny & others disgraced for bad SEO.

9. Panda hits. Content is suddenly important again.

10.Penguin slams link schemes. Industry loses primary ranking source.

Clients start asking questions.

SEO’s New Golden Cow: Content Marketing (CM)!

11. Major industry channels (Moz, Hubspot, etc.) put emphasis on CM; try renaming SEO “Inbound marketing” to change perception.

12. SEO’s mistakenly interpret CM as “new link building”; rely on “great content” and business’ activities to create link opportunities. Most don’t see success, because…

Few SEO’s have marketing backgrounds or run their businesses like a marketing firm.

13. Attempts are made to shove CM into the “scale & automate” box of SEO. Mass guest-post schemes ensue. Google announces crackdowns.

14. Once sold as a service, SEO’s now need partnership status & marketing buy-in. Public perception of SEO is stuck in 2002; so are most teams’processes.

The tactics-addicted industry slowly realizes strategy & creatives are important, but has a hill to climb.

Opinion: The Future

15. (Not provided) destroys keywords as a reporting metric, Knowledge graph obliterates rankings. SEO’s must find new metrics, but clients expect to be reported to this way. F-f-friction.

16. Marketing firms seize opportunity to build digital teams & acquire talent. Basic tenants of SEO are easier to learn than marketing skills & strategy; firms already have buy-in, creatives & processes. 

17. Several poorly-run SEO firms close up shop because they can’t evolve in a strategy-based era.

18. Successful firms move away from selling SEO as an independent service, begin marketing holistic online marketing strategies with SEO treated as a tie-in/consideration for other marketing objectives.

AND WE’RE DONE!

Agree? Disagree? Use the comments below to  wave your pitchforks or sing your praises.
By the way, I’m a freelance writer lookin’ to pick up some work – so if you like my style, check me out!

Posted In: Other Stuff

Hawk Attack: And Other Stories of Note (is now free!)

In 2010, I wrote a book.

It was about my hilarious job working in an accounting department with a whole bunch of women who were straight out of Eastern Europe. It was actually sort of a book by accident.

The whole thing started out as notes posted on Myspace and Facebook – little notes to blow off steam and entertain my friends. People told me I should write a book, but I didn’t really know what to write about. So I just wrote more notes about Russian women who microwaved fish and kept their offices at sub-zero temperatures. 

In 2008, my friend Jeff compiled all of his favourites into a book format and gave it to me for my birthday. I was left without an excuse. I had already written a book. Over the next two years, I edited it, added to it and published it in hard copy. It looked like this: 

I like to believe it’s great toilet reading. To date, I’ve sold over 150 copies (which you can still buy) to rave reviews like:

“This made me laugh so hard I farted out my colon and had to go to the hospital!”Crazy guy in hospital with unfortunate case of exploded colon

Take that however you want to, but maybe be careful while reading and wear a pair of pants you’re not totally in love with.

Get it free here (free when you Tweet/Share on Facebook)

If that completely fails and you’re frustrated or you’re just too cool to let a tweet about my book sully your social media account, then you can break my heart and just download it here instead (but think about sharing it – I’d love for more people to share in the freeness and laughter).

Disclaimer: Yes, there are (a few) typos in this. Yes, I overuse commas. Deal with it.

(Got a friend’s birthday coming up? Want to get out of the anniversary dog house? Need a new permanent bathroom reader? You can buy a hard copy by contacting me. We’ll work out a deal.)

 

 

 

Posted In: Other Stuff

Turning Wolves Inside Out

King Richard

As a kid, my Opa Richard was larger than life. In my eyes he had this strange celebrity status; I mentally equated him with John F Kennedy. A strong, commanding figure with a thick head of hair that rivalled Elvis’ and a face that belonged in the black and white snapshots of history books.

He was the first relative to see me after I was born and the first to visit me at the hospital when I made an ill-fated attempt to swallow a nickel. As a child, he built my cousins and I a playhouse in his backyard. As an adult, he sold me my first home.

He lived just around the corner from my parent’s house and was an integral part of my life.

The Oddball

Opa had a lot of funny quirks. He hated the Queen and made a point to announce that he wouldn’t go visit her “if she was over in the next cul-de-sac”. He threatened to disown anyone in our family who listened to Mick Jagger, lamenting how “that idiot is paid to dance on a stage like a monkey”. He’d repeatedly go by himself to those photobooths in the mall and snap a string of wild-haired photos. When we asked him to, he grew out an enormous beard and looked almost exactly like Sadaam Hussein.

All of us cousins used to put on little shows for the adults – magic, drama, dance – and then pass around a metal, golden apple to collect our fee. We saved this for years, making grandiose plans as to how we’d spend it. We visited once to find the money completely gone. Opa had gone out and bought the most obnoxious boombox we’d ever seen with it, blasting German Volksmusic through the house at decibels we could hear from our place around the corner.

And he could surprise you. Our entire family was shocked to find him defying his firm Baptist roots, lured to the dance floor by my cousin Kayla for a spirited rendition of twist-n-shout. It wasn’t his kind of dance, but for an 80-something, he could really move.

The Storyteller

He loved to find a joke or story to tell and would recount it with a smirk and a gleam in his eye that gave away the punchline before he could say it.

When we were young, Opa used to tell us a story about his Dad, whom he lost when the soviets stormed their farm in Russia (the reason he would never cheer for Ovechkin). According to his legend, his Dad was once out in a field when a wolf came and attacked him. Without so much as a flinch, his Dad plunged his hand deep into the wolf, grabbed its tail and turned it inside out.

As a child, I firmly believed this was true. I believed Opa could do it too, if he tried.

I thought he was invincible.

When we were really little, he’d throw his hat into an open fire, wait for us to scream about it – then reach in and pull it out with his bare hands. We were amazed every time – who was this man who could feel no pain?

When he was 84 years old, he was still roofing sheds. On his own. I’ll never forget waking up one morning last year to the sound of scratching on my roof, going out my front door and seeing my octogenarian grandfather on a 20 foot ladder using a crowbar to clean my eaves trough. He was an unstoppable force.

But Opa was not always an easy man.

Having left Russia without his father to build a life here, Opa was fiercely critical of anything he perceived as a waste of money. He had an iron will and a way of doing things that you would question at your own peril.

My first-ever attempt at mowing a lawn was his. I nearly left in tears when he shouted down at me, asking if I was blind (I missed some rather obvious strips) and commandeering the lawnmower to do it himself. Years later, after spending hours mowing his lawn while he was away, he phoned me to tell me it was the best he’d ever seen. This felt like winning the lottery. His approval mean the world. His disappointment was crushing.

He was a handyman, but you couldn’t ask Opa how to do things. He assumed everyone should be able to figure it out, especially since he, a German immigrant with a “4th grade Russian education”, had no problem. His criticisms could be harsh whenever he felt like you were being too loose with funds or too lazy to do a job the “right way”.

We sometimes questioned if he was bipolar, as this pointed fury could unpredictably evaporate into an extraordinary kindness and demonstrations of love. After I bought my house, he locked himself away in my garage, insulated the entire thing and hung cabinets without me even asking him to.

He just knew I’d need them, and couldn’t build them myself.

A Hard-Earned Legacy

Some of you may be surprised that I am recounting some less than flattering things about this man I so deeply respected. But you need to understand – this was an integral part of who he was to his family – a sometimes cantankerous presence that was often a point of both humour and frustration.

He came with bristles, strong opinions and an invulnerable stubbornness, yes.

But when you turn the wolf inside out, you quickly find that his was a soul that would give anything for the safety and security of his family. There was a love there that didn’t always know how to express itself.

He was a builder. He laid our foundation. It was no coward’s work. He took immense pride in it – and in us. He was affirmed when he saw us succeed, needed to see us level headed and making wise decisions. And for every barb and thorn, there was a moment of gentleness and a wit that would come alive when he told a story or played a joke.

Happy 85th, Opa. Couldn't fit all those candles on the cake.

Near the end of his life, someone asked my Opa what I did for a living. He replied, with what I can only imagine was his characteristic smirk, “I have no idea, but I believe he’s doing well.”

The End of an Era

Yesterday, I stood by my Opa’s bedside as he finally lost his battle with lung cancer. It was surreal to hear the slow winding down of the oxygen machine, the pump rising and falling for the last time, the strange quiet as the birds who had somehow still been chirping at 10:00pm went suddenly quiet, as if on cue.

He was strong-willed until the end – a man who wanted to live on his own terms and die on his own terms. They had brought a hospital bed to his house. In one last hilarious act of defiance, he more or less refused to go near the thing. It was not what he wanted.

He breathed his last at home, in his own bed surrounded by his children. I was able to see off the man who was among the first to welcome me here. I choose to believe that after arriving in heaven, he shook hands with his Dad before giving God a hard time for how he’d laid all of the shingles.

Long Live the Patriarch

A few months ago, in an attempt to immortalize my Opa in some meaningful way I created this painting.

His legacy to his family is enormous. He used his personal success to help kick start others – especially his grandchildren. It hangs in the front entrance of my home – the home he helped make possible through his generosity. It will remind me of him every single time I open that door.

He may be gone, but the impact he’s had will spiral through generations.

Thanks for everything, Opa.
I’ll miss you.

 

Posted In: Personal Ramblings

Penguin 2.0: Breaking The News to Clients

Everyone’s favourite algorithm update is back and better than ever!

Matt Cutts sparked a frenzy in SEO spheres last week when he announced they were close to rolling out the sequel to last year’s infamous update that crushed dreams and gave spam it’s first real kick in the prunes. It made a devil out of anchor text and turned the SEO faithful from the darkness into the light of “content marketing” (read: guest post links)

Rumour has it that this next one’s a real doozy. If you’re honest, you might not have been playing as nice as your company blog insists.

Fear not!

In preparation for the massive reckoning about to befall you, I’ve prepared some template e-mails you can send to clients  that should get you completely off the hook! I’ve categorized them by the type of excuse you’d like to employ:

Negative SEO Attack

Dear client,

Would you believe it? While we were off doing pure, white hat SEO, some unscrupulous shysters came along and built thousands of directory links with the anchor text of all the terms we were going for! We didn’t catch it until now because we were so busy creating great content and building relationships, but rest assured, we will track down whoever’s responsible and make them pay for this. It’s just another reason the _______ niche has gotten so competitive lately.

“The last SEO guys you hired were total scam artists..”

…. as it would turn out, the SEO’s you hired back in ______ are completely to blame for your site being impacted by this update. While we’ve focused on unadulterated quality from day one, those last guys rode in on a dark horse, spammed your site to death with forum profile links and galloped off into the sunset with your money. We certainly had nothing to do with this (please don’t go back and read any of the reports we’ve sent you, they’re completely irrelevant now), but we look forward to being the helping hand that pulls you out of the enormous field of manure you’ve found yourself in. Thank God you switched when you did!

Blame the Intern

… while working on a completely separate internal project, our hapless intern accidentally used YOUR URL in a Xrumer blast instead of the intended website. We can assure you that this totally non-fictional intern has been terminated effective immediately as we work to clean up the mess he inadvertently caused. Please know that we’ve updated our training manual and hiring documents to add an extra emphasis to “attention to detail” so this never happens again.

The Bait N’ Switch

We regret to inform you that your site was heavily impacted by the most recent Penguin update. Visibility has been completely lost for all targeted phrases including your brand name; traffic has dropped by nearly 85%. The cause appears to have been the unnatural link profile accumulated on your behalf over the past several years. 

We also regret to inform you that WiseClick SEO has officially ceased operations and declared bankruptcy. We apologize for the inconvenience we’re sure this has caused you.

Fortunately, we’re excited to announce WiseClick Content Marketing, an exciting new venture entirely focused on the creation and curation  of awesome, share-worthy content! Our prices begin at…

The “Southern States” Approach

Client, now is the time to act! It appears that Google has been hacked by  capitalism-hating commie socialists, determined to destroy the American way of life, take away your guns and rob you of your constitutional liberties. The only way to thwart this great evil is to stand together and invest in this great nation through pay-per-click ads…

Take the Money & Run

…by the time you read this, “Bob Krandal the SEO” will be no more. Do not try to contact me. I’ve changed my name, sold off all of my possessions and travelled to a new sunset far away from here where I plan to frolic in the waves with shapely local women and drink Shirley Temples. I’m sorry for the way this played out. I still believe somewhere deep inside of me that I’m a good person, I never meant for it to end like this..

Get Angry

Listen, you bunch of half-wits! We mentioned the phrase “content marketing” like FIVE TIMES in our e-mails and reports to you. That you can’t understand a good thing when you read it isn’t our problem. Really, the only people you have to blame for this are yourselves. We wanted to do great work, but you just didn’t let us. Well, behold the fruits of your ignorance!

Fire Up The Smoke & Mirrors (Lie!)

Hi client!

Nothing is wrong and everything is great! See the below screenshot of your current rankings and traffic. Boy, you sure are dominating those search results – number one, same as always! Attached is your invoice.

Be Honest (Not Recommended)

Dear client,

Surprise! We’re dickheads!

Posted In: Other Stuff

Hitler’s Mustache: An Essay on Personal Time

The following is a paper I turned in for Metaphysics.
The title: “Hitler’s Mustache, And Other Problems That Upon Solving Will Do Nothing To Benefit Humanity Whatsoever”.
Yes, I handed it in with that title.
I got 95%. If you haven’t read Lewis’ paper, you don’t need to. I make everything pretty clear, as clear as time travel can be, I reckon.

—————

In his paper, “The Paradoxes of Time Travel”, Lewis puts forward a proposition about the nature of personal and external time. Under his proposal, one could truthfully say of a time traveler who aspired to be a barber – “Even now, long ago, he is trimming the moustache of Hitler.” First, I will outline Lewis’ argument in more detail. I will then argue that Lewis is right in this statement and that claims of that nature can be truthfully made. Lastly, I will consider some complications and counter-arguments. Once I have finished, I will take a long shower and try to forget about the entire thing.

In his paper, Lewis distinguishes the difference between personal and external time. First, he importantly outlines his belief (which I will hold as a truth in order to progress) that time is linear, a single line and not a plane. External time is time as you or I know it – the passing of seconds, minutes, decades, millenniums. External time is divided by these measures and separates one distinct event from another. For example, ten years ago I was 11 years old, seconds ago you began reading that last sentence, and so forth. Personal time is a very different notion. Lewis addresses the issue of “personal time” this way: “instead of an operational definition, we need a functional definition of personal time: it is that which occupies a certain role in the pattern of events that comprise the time traveler’s life.”

 

Lewis admits that this is not really time – that the passing of various events in a familiar order (first infantile, than senile stages – hair grows, food digests, memories accumulate) do not constitute themselves “time”, but something close enough to it that we can “transplant our temporal vocabulary” to it. Each change that one experiences, however small, marks a new stage of their existence. This changing of stages constitutes personal “time”.

For example, imagine I transport a blooming flower through time. Regardless of where in time that flower is sent, it will go through the stages of seedling, sprout, stem, leaves, flower bud, and blooming. For the flower, personal time marches on independent of where in history that flower has found itself, whether on the mantle of the Marx brothers or in the window of King Solomon. It will continue to grow through these stages regardless of where in time I send it (assuming where I send it is sunny and not an environment conducive to plant growth, an obvious but unnecessary complication). This growth constitutes the continual transfer through stages of the plant that Lewis would call personal time.

Lewis goes further to suggest that we can assign locations in personal time to not only a potential time traveler’s stages, but the events that occur around the time traveler during that stage. For example, I could truthfully say when referring to the personal time of a time traveler that left three hours ago to meet with Hitler and groom his infamous moustache (the rumored source of all his evil) – “Even now, long ago, he may be trimming the moustache of Hitler himself!”

Here, I agree with Lewis. It is true that a “three-hours later” stage of the time traveler is in fact in the past tending to Hitler’s appearance. Assuming that his personal time and my own were once perfectly aligned in the present, I could give the traveler an invincible wristwatch (assume such a thing exists and is incapable of error) and wear a matching wristwatch on my own arm. Setting both wristwatches for three hours, the traveler departs. Three hours from now, my wristwatch will sound its alarm. Three hours in the personal time of the traveler, the watch will sound its alarm as well. The difference is merely our locations in external time.

To provide another, perhaps stronger example is to consider if the time traveler had eaten a slice of orange prior to his trip. After three hours of being in the past, it seems to follow that the orange within the time traveler would be three hours “more digested” than when the traveler left. In this, the stage of him that exists in the past is continuous from the one he left in the present. Three hours of time have passed for him despite the fact that decades have also passed in external time. Only in referring to his personal time am I correct in making the statement, “even now, long ago, he may be trimming the moustache of Hitler himself!”. With regards to external time, I am obviously in error. I cannot truthfully say that at the very moment I am speaking three hours later, Hitler is in fact having his moustache groomed.

Here is the paradox – the event is both happening now, for the time traveler, years ago – and not happening now, for me, in the present. When I make the claim that my time traveling friend might now be trimming Hitler’s moustache, it is important that I include the short phrase “Long ago”. Without it, my statement is false. Instead I must assert that at this moment, during another separate moment in history, an event is occurring. It is only in our personal times that these moments align for the time traveler and I. Because man clearly goes through “stages” as described by Lewis, I am inclined to agree with his position on personal time and truthful statements made in its regard.

However, there some admittedly peculiar and difficult complications when accepting Lewis’ personal time concept. For example, consider that instead of one time traveler, I had commissioned six to go and report on Hitler. Three hours ago, each climbed into their own time machine and traveled to a different stage of Hitler’s life. By virtue of what I have claimed to accept, I must now make some very bizarre statements. I can say (assuming three hours has passed), “Even now, long ago, Hitler is being born, making out with Eva Braun, giving the order to invade Poland, having his moustache trimmed, taking his first steps and giving a speech.” How can it possibly be true that all of these events are occurring, “even now”? At first consideration, it seems as though this statement turns a timeline on its head. It infers that all of history and the future are occurring in this moment, one single, cosmic “yelp”. Since Lewis has argued for a linear time format, this complication at first seems to challenge his proposed structure of time.

In response to this, I must emphasize that when making his original statement, Lewis referred only to personal time, not external time. For each of my six time travelers, they experience one of these varied events at three hours later in their personal time. In external time these events remain distinct and separate, divided by months and years. In personal time, however, each of my six travelers is experiencing these moments exactly three hours after setting out. This three hours has passed the same for I as it has for them, for at once all of our personal times were aligned. Consider the problem in the sense of geographic travel. I can send six men in six cars in six different directions over the course of three hours. I can say truthfully at the end of those three hours that each man is in a different place, and nothing about this seems contradictory. In my example, each traveler has simply traveled to a different “stage” or “place” in time, and this travel in and of itself does nothing to align the events in external time. What has been aligned is the moment at which these events are being experienced by the travelers, but not their actual occurrence. This begs the original paradox. These events are occurring “even now”, but also not occurring “now”. As stated earlier – the statement is only true if making reference to personal time, but blatantly false if referring to external time. I can find no support for an argument that both events can occur simultaneously in a linear time structure.

One might also take issue with the suggestion that “personal time” can stick to one like toilet paper on the high heel of an oblivious woman leaving the bathroom. That is to say, one may posit that the notion of “taking time with you” is flawed – that personal time is simply a product of external time and that the two are inseparable. They may imagine a world without external time and argue that in that world personal time would be incapable of passing. Thus, the personal time experienced three years in the past by a time traveler and three years presently by myself are not the same. I find this position difficult to argue in favor of. A supporter of this view would need to supply reason to believe that the stages of development one goes through are somehow disjointed or separated by the act of time travel into two distinct and incomparable entities. I would refer back to the argument made for the plant – independent of where in time it travels, there are necessary stages of its lifecycle it must go through in order. The same principles apply to a time traveler, and I cannot imagine any event that would be sufficient to create a disjuncture or “new” entity separate of its past. Perhaps I just lack imagination.

Other arguments against Lewis would need to challenge his perception of time as linear. I will not address these here. Given the rigid boundaries Lewis has created his world in the context of his writing, it is difficult to disagree with the statement that within these parameters, his assertions with regards to personal time hold true.

In conclusion, I have briefly outlined Lewis arguments regarding personal time and argued that given this outline statements such as “even now, long ago, he may be trimming the moustache of Hitler himself” can be true. I have stated that these statements are only true when referring to personal time, and not to external time. I have considered some potential objections to Lewis within the context he has created of linear time, and maintained that I do not feel they are valid enough to undermine Lewis arguments.

Posted In: Personal Ramblings

Are You A Content Marketing Phony? A Helpful Quiz!

A few months ago, the SEO industry performed a David Blaine-grade magic trick. Penguin rolled out, the industry soiled it’s collective britches – and then POOF! – overnight, businesses that had once excelled in “SEO” now excelled in “Content Marketing”.

It’s everywhere. EVERYWHERE. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find an SEO agency (whether proudly wearing the label or hiding in the closet with it) who HASN’T blogged about the importance of content marketing and how it’s now the bees knees and the future of the entire internet. There’s just one problem: Phonies walk among us. You might even know a few. You might even be one without knowing it.

1. Did your company website have a section on content marketing prior to April, 2012?

2. If no, does it now?

3. Please check all of the following that apply to you: “When I began to offer content marketing to clients, my…”

  • Team composition significantly changed
  • Team structure significantly changed
  • Internal processes significantly changed
  • Approach to pitching clients significantly changed
  • Pricing structure significantly changed
  • I added a “content marketing” tab to my services section and went to town!

4. Yes or No: “My firm’s primary method of content marketing is mass guest post publishing”?

5. Yes or No: “I source the majority of the content for my clients from oDesk”

6. Yes or No: “We created our editorial calendar by going to Google Adwords, picking commonly searched keyword phrases and then coming up with blog topics about them (usually with a lot of top X lists because we heard people can digest those easily)”

7. Yes or No: “Before launching into the creation phase, we sit down and delve into a strategy that defines the voice, tone, key messages, themes

8. Yes or No: “The main reason we offer content marketing is because we have no idea how to get linked to now and byline links on blogs nobody reads are still scalable if you put them on blogs nobody cares about.”

9. Yes or No: “We could still do content marketing if every single blog fell off the face of the planet tomorrow afternoon” 11. Yes or No: “I can actually recite my client’s mission and vision statements.”

10. Are you a great big phony? (Ha, ha – just kidding. I wouldn’t expect anyone to be that transparent!)

Phew!

Let’s tally up the score:

If you’re selling content marketing now and didn’t before April of 2012 BUT your team’s composition/structure/processes/pricing structure didn’t change, your primary means of “content marketing” is pushing out mass guest blogs that you sourced from oDesk/Elancer/Mechanical Turk/Belarus, you build content calendars by shotgunning titles you think are clever into an excel spreadsheet based on search volume and don’t know what your client’s mission and vision statements are, give yourself negative infinity points.

Congrats, you’re a part of the problem!


But don’t worry. Secretly, most overnight content marketers are just like you.

A few years from now when we’ve run the phrase “content marketing” into the ground, we can all get together over drinks at a conference and talk about the next wave and wash our hands clean of the whole thing. Heck, we did it with SEO.

Posted In: Open Letters

You Are Doing Great & Everything Will Be Okay (An Open Letter to the Tech Industry)

I don’t know how anyone who works in the tech space can avoid completely hating themselves these days.

Most of the blog posts I’ve seen lately are dedicated to announcing that I’m a miserable failure. Titles like, “Top 10 reasons you fail at ___________”, “Common Mistakes You’re Still Making (Somehow, you Idiot)”, “You Are Bad At Your Job and Here’s An Itemized List Of Reasons Why”

Now, I know the authors mean well – they want to help. And with an industry that changes every single day, it’s tough to stay on top of everything. Sure, you’re falling short – but we’re ALL falling short.

So I’ve decided to throw you a bone here. Instead of listing all the reasons you suck, I’ve decided to give you a few reasons you are doing great and everything will be okay. 

Let’s begin. For best results, hit “play” while you read this.

 You there!

You look great today. You managed to not fail at putting on clothes, climbing in your car/walking to public transit, getting out of that car/train/bus/private jet and looking presentable. You know what this means? You’ve managed to retain the skills you learned as a toddler. One arm per sleeve, one pant per leg… you are an absolute powerhouse of attractiveness and competence right now.

Straighten up that posture. You look so much better when you’re not Quasimodo-ing. Yeesh! Have you always been that tall? Such great bone structure. And that complexion! Living behind a keyboard has given you that sexy silky-smooth paleness people love the Twilight movies for.

Now, your job? It’s just a job. And you’re doing great at it. Oh, I know what the others told you: “You’re failing at twitter. You’re bad at outreach. You’re no good at proposals. You’re still making these basic SEO mistakes”

Well you know what?

They can shove it. Who are they to tell you that you’re no good? Just some goof with a blog. Sure, you’re not getting it all right – but who could? You’re only human. Your job is pretty confusing sometimes, and..

Holy cow! Wait a minute. Was that just you, a minute ago? Typing? Good lord, it sounded like a machine gun! You must be able to type like, what, 300 words per minute? Oh, don’t be modest. I’ll bet you could type out the entire War & Peace book set in less than 24 hours. Man, you’re pretty good at that.

But back to what I was saying.

Our jobs can be pretty confusing sometimes, things are changing really fast. And you can’t be good at everything, no matter how many inconsiderate, high-horse, “Neener-neener-neener” bloggers try to tell you that being great at everything is your job. It ain’t. 

Why, I’ll bet you’ve done some great things. I’m sure you’ve got at least a few happy clients, right? Well, those are some successes. You succeeded! Not everything you do is a rancid, steaming pile of crap. Take refuge in that knowledge.

Now, maybe you don’t have any satisfied clients. In fact, maybe you’ve blown it pretty bad. Maybe you got caught up in an algorithm update, or you dumped out some messy code, or you couldn’t quite get their new logo right.

Stop for a second: You’ve managed to make it this far through the day without pooping your pants, having a heart attack or being arrested for grand larceny. But you know what? Other people haven’t. Revel in that thought for a minute.

While other people are pooping their pants, snorting drugs and listening to Nickleback albums, you’re out there doin’ your best. You’re puttin’ in at least some kind of effort – it may not be your best effort, but by golly, you’re at least somewhat, sort-of, maybe trying.

Everything is going to be okay.

Even if you are a jobless Nickleback-listening cocaine addict, you’ve still got a chance to turn it all around.

Quick, check your pulse. Still alive? Thought so. You know what that means? You’ve got time to get better and try new things. You have more time to fail at the new things you try. But I’m guessing you’re going to succeed at a few of them.

Yup, you’re doing a whole lot of things right. So don’t listen to the haters.

You’re doing pretty swell.

 

Posted In: Personal Ramblings