Does Content Really Matter?

Still a slow news cycle. Regarding Ebola, it could get worse, but if history serves as any guide, the worst is over. The media and the CDC predicted swine flu and avian flu could kills hundreds of millions of people, but only a couple hundred died. This is no different – lots of hype to generate ad dollars from people’s fears. Evey time I express this view, some people get peeved. How can you not be scared? WTF is wrong with you? I’m like, fine, I hope I’m wrong. But I don’t need hope because the science is on my side, and doom and gloomers have horrible track records, anyway. The scientific consensus is that Ebola will not become airborne because for Ebola to become airborne it would have to reside in the airways, which is not how the virus is programmed. That would be like having the flu going from being airborne to being spread by bodily fluids.

Anyway, stocks surged huge today. People who sold in fear lose again.

Bloggers, your written content may not be as important as you think. On iSteve, for example, if we let the quantity of post comments be a proxy for post viralness, there is no correlation between the number of written words by Steve and viralness. Going back as far as a week, the two most commented posts on iSteve is a post consisting entirely of a video, and secondly, a post consisting entirely of a blockquote; neither posts have any original written content by Steve. The posts of original written content have an average number of comments, around 30-70 each. I’ve observed this trend on other popular blogs: single sentence posts getting as many comments, if not more, as full-blown essays.

So what gives? I suspect for the most popular blogs, the vast majority of readers don’t read the longer content in its entirety and instead come there to hangout and chat, sort of like the digital equivalent of a bar or water cooler. Blogs become popular because that’s where everyone else is and if you’re not there, you’re missing out. That’s not to say the content isn’t good – it’s often as good as the content found anywhere else – but it makes you question, as a blogger, how influential your posts really are. Why pour your heart out for 2,000 words when 20 words, or even just a link to a New York Times article will get the same response? Matt Drudge probably came to that same realization, that he could create a popular site with a conservative ‘theme’ without the drudgery of writing. Hence, Drudge’s value is not in telling people what he thinks, but telling people what is important and then letting the readers arrive at their own conclusions.

Here’s an idea: just have a roulette wheel with all the hot button issues on it such as:

Wealth inequality
Robot economy
College tuition
IQ & IQ testing
NFL players
NBA team owners
Excessive force by police
Global warming
GOP mid terms
Middle East

Everyday spin the wheel and whichever one comes up is the topic of the discussion. Put a link to a New York Times article or a Youtube video, and you’re done.