Feeding The Mind, but Numbing The Soul

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This week I have been sharing comments on ethics in technology over at Victoria Ipri’s blog. In this delightful chat, Andy Havens laments that there is still too much attention being paid to an out-of-date solution called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). As Andy aptly states,

“The reason (technologies like SEO) gain popularity and then die seems simple – the marketing hogs see the trends, jump in and take over. We are all guilty to some degree.”

He also shines light on a newer and far better component of many search algorithms, Linguistic (or Latent ed.) Semantic Indexing (LSI), which simply put, can read good webpage copy and tag it appropriately for optimum use in search results. In other words, it rewards well-written content, which should please web copywriters everywhere.

“LSI seems like a dream come true,” says Andy, “I write good content and the search engines figure out what I’m talking about. It leaves me to focus on what I want to say instead of making sure I’ve got 2.3 keywords per 134 words or whatever.”

But he also finds it frustrating that, on our journey of getting indexed by search engines, we still seem to encounter quite a few bumps in the road. This should come as no surprise to any of us. The fine-tuning of new technology has never been more apparent to the masses as it is today. Before computers and the web, fine-tuning went on as usual, but it was behind the scenes at such places as the phone companies and manufacturing labs.

Today, however, because investors are demanding that companies put their pipelines on the fast-track so they can grow share price more quickly, the fine-tuning often takes place right before our eyes. In the big picture, our problems are nothing more than the growing pains experienced by a toddler.

Cultural back-sliding doesn’t help either. Ethically speaking, we have allowed ourselves to be subordinated to the often bogus quantitative promises of technology and have sacrificed the qualitative values that govern our decision-making processes.

Andy provides an excellent example of this:

“I’ve got … software someplace that can sign up to hundreds of social marketing sites and spread my message across all of them, even though I’ve never heard of most of them.”

Sounds like another lazy shortcut that some marketers use in the hopes of getting something for next to nothing.

There is no easy solution except possibly some sort of ISP punitive bandwidth rate card that changes the monthly bill to an amount so high, it stings the abuser in the pocketbook.

One other solution is to do precisely what we are doing: engaging the community at large with the notion of a higher standard of conduct. Because something that good will never be out of date.