I love the internet.
Schlocky I know. But what I love most about the internet is the free exchange of ideas and information that no other platform is able to provide. Yes, obvious to say, but it’s a game-changer, for all industries and all professions.
My own interest in how the content we read (books, news articles, messages to each other) has transferred to digital, has led me to discover thousands of articles, reports, even tweets and Facebook statuses that inspired and left me enthusiastic about the future of digital content.
The internet has also given voice to extremely intelligent people who, in the past, may have published an incredibly insightful piece of prose (if they were ‘picked up’ by a publisher or self-published), only to have their tome filed away on dusty shelves, reserved for the few able to find it. The internet has changed all that, creating thought leaders who have made careers from their Twitter observational skills or from simply blogging.
A great example is the fantastic Darren Rowse, or as the online world knows him, ProBlogger. Rowse is undoubtedly one of the world’s foremost bloggers, who’s own blogs have catapulted him into an online fame many envy. I’ve had the fortune of briefly meeting Rowse (offline!) and he is a great guy. His insights on the role of the blog and its power have floored me time and time again. This is a person who understands the ‘value’ of content.
But with great power comes great responsibility.
This morning I came across a ProBlogger tweet directing me to the ProBlogger Job Board. I’m always interested in seeing what new jobs have come out of the digital world I love so dear.
The first ad read:
GENERAL WRITERS for long-term contract. Bulk of assignments will be for SEO articles and product review with 10% comprising of press releases, reports and eBooks. Ability to research and write engaging articles using solid writing skills. Candidate must be able to write a minimum of 20, 400-600 word articles per week. The rate ranges from $1/500 words to $1/100 words and the rate will depend on writing style and ability.
WHA? I may be reading this incorrectly, but if you work out the maths (At best, 20 articles x 600 words each = 12,000 words; $1 for 100 words x 600 words = $6; so $6 x by 20 articles = $120), that’s $120 for 12,000 words!
I know there are many gifted writers out there who could easily reach this word count without breaking a sweat (hell, I’m not so bad at it myself). But even they wouldn’t be able to create that much QUALITY content for $120 per week. I have journalist mates that get paid significantly more to produce that many words, all of which are quality.
This is my fear: the internet is quickly becoming a dumping ground for rubbish content. A statement as obvious as my earlier line, but no less important.
I’m not alluding to the amount of cute cats and weird porn on the net; I’m talking about words thrown together purposely for the aid of getting better SEO results for commercial entities. They don’t care what’s written, just as long as it leads back to their sites. This has opened the door for digital content sweatshops.
To me, QUALITY digital content should have a ‘value’ – the more you flood the net with meaningless content, quality content should become more valuable. In this case, commercial entities should be paying more for less – why? Because the quality of the more will far outway the gibberish that comes from producing content with no value.
Idealist I may be, but clutter up the internet and you make it harder to find the quality voices like ProBlogger. I have tweeted my concerns about the job ad to ProBlogger to get clarification – will let you know what happens next.