Sunday, May 20, 2007


Thoughts on reading my mail

By that, I mean my postal mail, not my email.

I received a flyer about the O'Reilly Open Source Conference here in Portland this summer. This year they have a track on people and the community of Open Source. I propsoed a talk about three years ago based on my experience with Wikipedia, but they turned down my proposal. Either I was ahead of my time, or I wasn't friends with the right person.

Also in my mail was a catalog of non-credit classes at the local commumity college. One of the offerings was an online class on Search Engine Marketing, only $1795 (I you're interested, you'll have to do your own search for it; I'm not sharing any more information about where or when it is happening.) I could deliver a well-deserved barb about paying that much money just to learn how to annoy Google and countless other people, but I have a more important observation: this is the real way that spammers make money -- just like Multi-level marketing scams. The money doesn't come from the ads themselves, or from getting businesses to pay you to spam ("Send email to a million people? No problem. I just won't tell you that 999,000 of these addresses are invalid and most of the rest will delete my email unread"), but now it comes from charging people lots of money to learn a dubious skill. This report states that the real money in MLM doesn't come from selling the products or a franchise where people sell them for you; it comes from all of the training and inspirational materials that are sold to the people in the MLM itself.

One thing I've learned in the last seven months of blogging is that it's actually very easy to attract people to a website or a blog; most of the tricks I learned in ten minutes during a BarCamp get-together last November. The hard part is creating something worth reading that keeps people coming back, and I'm not always convinced that I've learned that part yet.


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