Also, it’s been a long time since I spoke at an SEO event!
Last time I got the opportunity to show how much I love what I do by talking about SEO in front of strangers, I did it in Italian. A lifetime ago.
Apparently someone didn’t know any better than inviting me to talk at the biggest free SEO event in London. Just to make it exciting for everyone else as it’s going to be for me, I had to come up with a cryptic title for my speech:
Post-Aristosomething representation of reality, and websites
There’ll be beer and pizza (yeah, really) and some amazing speakers like Victoria Olsina and others for which I am under a severe NDA. What happened is Obama was to be there, but he was intimidated by the two names already out and will skip this one: therefore, the next two speakers will be announced later in February.
The topic of my speech stems from my interest in AI, in how the brain works, and some other unexpected (I hope) fields of knowledge.
Quite excited and looking for a way to keep my knees steady like for every other speech I, and I guess everyone else, ever gave. As far as I am concerned, though, this one will be special: it’s the first time I come up with such a very personal idea, and get to talk about it in front of a bunch of people. It’s a theory I’ve been brewing for years, strolling about with Gabriele and Nico by W’s pool, or discussing with the BA gang.
I love how it makes sense in my brain: hope it will for other people, too. I will publish an article to sum it up on this blog, and will develop it in due time. So it’s not a speech like any other speech I could give, because it’s very personal and I love it. See you there!
This year I didn’t beat my 2018 record (damn JOB! 😀 ).
Still, I got to listen to some good new stuff. OK so this is something I’ve been wanting to say for ages:
Thank You Spotify
everyone, yrstruly included
There I said it, put me on r/hailcorporate idc. There, get your link too, Spotify.
It’s not easy for someone like me to find new music, and I thought I’d NEVER again find new, cool music. Until 2013.
Oh and also: when f***in Sony or f***in Justin Taylor Swiftotune Trap complain about Spotify, it feels even better. The more they complain, the more money I wish I could pay to Spotify.
Yeah I’m aware of all the low-shares-for-small-bands thing: I don’t care. I think you are wrong. In fact, I personally listen to bands whose fandom is absolutely MILES away from me, and it’s a lot of the music I listen to, and I’d never even know they existed if it wasn’t for Spotify. So yeah I love it.
For instance, I’d never know BtBaM. Love it \m/
Artist of the decade. In fact, they were my top of the year both in 2015 (Coma Ecliptic) and in 2018 (Automata I and II)
These are my top artists of 2019:
Not a bad year re: new stuff: Tool for one, with all the stuff finally online and Fear Inoculum. New good stuff by Opeth, the best they’ve made in years Good enough by Soen (but I expected more honestly). Dream Theater is now the musical equivalent of your grandpa who kicked ass when you were a kid, but now you feel ashamed for him when he drools while asleep at the Christmas dinner table. Just go home guys. Periphery. Devin Townsend. Rendevous point. Disappointing Hemina. Baroness did their thing, which I love, but played it safe. Bent Knee, Uneven Structure: let’s see them next time.
Nothing outworldly though, now that I think about it. Maybe Leprous did the best. But the latest released album that changed my life is Pain of Salvation, 2017. No one got quite there, since.
or Why we continue to use Google (and Facebook), and why we will (not) stop
I recently had an interesting discussion with some of my dearest friends (damn nerdz <3). It all started with the (absolutely irrelevant for an English speaker) news of the launch of a brand new translation of one of the greatest pieces of literature of all times, and one of my favorite books, The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (always be praised ). This re-translation is being criticised pretty much from all sides: was it necessary? What was the point of abruptly modifying the names of characters that have existed in the reader’s imagination for decades, not to mention the general public since 2001 (year of release of the first film of the Peter Jackson trilogy (always be praised)? Will our children know a work of inferior quality, because of this unfortunate translation? And why, WHY in the name of Eru is the cover so ugly?
Let me briefly summarise some points of argument, which are not the focal point of this post: – all translations are inevitably defective, and those who have read any book in two or more languages are well aware of it; – our brain surrounds the memory of everything we liked as children with a shroud of positive emotions, because we are biologically designed to do so. Therefore, the future generation will have no idea whatsoever of how cool the old translation was for us, and they will love theirs exactly as well as we love ours. There are shitty bits in ours too, but in our head it was all rainbows and unicorns. – bringing a book to the cinema has its positives and negatives: among the issues, there is also that one inevitably assigns a face to imaginary characters: my Gollum was mine, though I have to admit it was similar to that of the film. This effect will be even stronger for our children: for them, LotR will be the movie, Arwen will be Liv Tyler, Aragorn Viggo (both bepraised). This is not necessarily a bad thing, but without a doubt it will remove some of the mystical aura that we assign to written words, especially those written words – and don’t say “OK boomer whatev, my son will be different ’cause #Iwillforcethem“: first of all, I want to see how you’ll do it, but more importantly the substance does not change. They will no longer be fictional characters, but physical. Kids will have a much faster brain than ours, like we do compared to our parents (sorry mom); the images they create will be completely different. So all in all, we should consider ourselves lucky if they’ll even read the fucking translation after all!
These three points, interesting or not; correct or not, are not really relevant to the central point of this post. There’s a fourth point more prone to more extensive thought. At the debate I instinctively linked this recent article by Martin Scorsese on the NYTimes, whose main point is: modern films, the Marvel ones in particular, are nothing but an artificially manufactured product designed to tell the user what the user wants to hear – they don’t want to be stimulated, they want to be relaxed, increase their feeling of safety, decrease their stress: so I don’t have to make him think too much. And Isn’t this the key feature of today’s lazy, shortsighted, self-promoting marketing? If companies do remakes, re-translations, and various recycling, it is because of those who go to see Marvel movies and stuff like that. Everyone likes some standard, lazy thinking, to unwind from their hard life: Hollywood and similars are nothing but capitalist ventures for which only the capital counts, nothing else.
It costs Hollywood 100 to shoot a masterpiece, which 100 people will watch. It costs them 10 to make trash, with say 50 viewers: all in all, trash is more convenient. Also, if they try long enough, statistically they’ll hit the sweet spot where, with effort 10, they’ll still get 100 viewers (e.g. Marvel).
It comes natural to me to apply this reasoning to the world that I know best, the online one: a glaring example is under everyone’s eyes. Google (I’m talking about what is now called Alphabet, that is the whole Big G galaxy) has reached its peak because for a decade it has been much better than the competition. The layout was clean, understandable, fun; services were free, integrated, without Ads; the hardware cost relatively low; thanks to a better technology, Search Results were distinctly better (in this specific point, the gap grows continuously to this day, thanks to AI-a long-term investment G did, which is and will be paying dividends for long); open source practically everywhere; etc. But now, why should they push for a better product? The condition of monopoly, let’s call things by their name, offers among the various advantages the fact that the user will tend by intellectual laziness to always use the same service. So let’s flood them with Ads! They don’t need deep answers to their queries, on other sites, two lines are enough to understand any topic as long as those two lines are on our site! Let’s charge for services: not much, who do you want to notice? Let’s keep brands hostage of our paid platform!
I hope this is a short-sighted strategy, leading not so much to the failure of the company (which in any case has enormous merits that we mustn’t forget), but at least to the proliferation of valid competitors: competition is good for the market. Right now, however, all other competitors are behind by several laps of the track. As Ben Thompson says here,
unlike traditional monopolies, it is hard to argue that Google’s product isn’t getting better
He is right: unfortunately, despite everything, the product is still the best available (I’m talking Search ofc). This is valid for many G products, but not all: I am trying to break away from the monopoly, as far as I can (for example, I use Ecosia on mobile – do it yourself).
It is we the users who shape the offer: if we are satisfied with mediocre services, mediocre services we will get: we do not deserve anything else.
This is a sci-fi story by legendary American writer Frederic Brown. Do yourself a favour, go buy this AMAZING collection of very short stories of his. Or find some for free here. Yeah I know, I’ve got no Amazon affiliation :/
He was wet and muddy and hungry and cold and he was fifty thousand light years from home.
A strange blue sun gave light, and gravity, twice what he was used to, made every movement difficult. But in tens of thousands of years this part of war hadn’t changed. The flyboys were fine with their sleek spaceships and their fancy weapons. When the chips are down, though, it was still the foot soldier, the infantry, that had to take the ground and hold it, foot by bloody foot. Like this damned planet of a star he’s never heard of until they’d landed him there. And now it was sacred ground because the aliens were there too.
The aliens, the only other intelligent race in the Galaxy…cruel, hideous and repulsive monsters. Contact had been made with them near the centre of the Galaxy, after the slow, difficult colonization of a dozen thousand planets; and it had been war at sight; they’d shot without even trying to negotiate, or to make peace. Now, planet by bitter planet, it was being fought out. He was wet and muddy and hungry and cold, and the day was raw with a high wind that hurt his eyes. But the aliens were trying to infiltrate and every sentry post was vital. He stayed alert, gun ready. Fifty thousand light-years from home, fighting on a strange world and wondering if he’d ever live to see home again.
And then he saw one of them crawling toward him. He drew a bead and fired. The alien made that strange horrible sound they all make, then lay still. He shuddered at the sound and sight of the alien lying there. One ought to be able to get used to them after a while, but he’d never been able to. Such repulsive creatures they were, with only two arms and two legs, ghastly white skins and no scales.
On 13 June my wife and I flew back to Italy to be at Firenze Rocks. It was a present from her for my bday: honestly she could’ve played it safe with some food, which always works, but I’m glad she didn’t. It was absolutely amazing. And yeah it was Italy, so we’ve had great food after all anyway.
I’ve always been a music person, since my father taught me guitar as a kid. I’ve given up playing in a band a couple years ago, because life happened, but I manage to stick to listening as much good stuff as I can. I came up with a theory with which I manage to annoy pretty much everyone, when talking about music tastes. It goes ‘there’s only two kinds of music: good music, and bad music’. Annoys the shit out of them. Anyway, Firenze Rocks day 1’s lineup was great: Dream Theater, was a huge fan as a kid and I saw them before multiple times but I’ve got to admit, they did an awful concert this time; Smashing Pumpkins, not a huge fan but hey they do bring some memories back and I have to say they did absolutely great-plus they played Wish You Were Here which takes some guts and was a pleasant surprise; and Tool were playing and the new album’s out in August so it was just an unmissable gig.
Now I won’t go on rambling about how good Tool are: tastes are tastes, and I know people have the right to be wrong by listening shitty music and having no educated opinions about it at all. As said, there’s only good music and bad music, and if you are not able to tell, say, Pink Floyd from Take That you should really at least try to keep it to yourself. And yeah I will judge (not that anyone should care).
Regardless, this is not my point here. Tool’s promotional approach is so interesting, it’s worth taking a look into. The guys do not do Social Media. They have personal accounts on Instagram or FB or Twitter, but do not use them as official means of communication. They release one album every 10 years or so (the latest, 10,000 Days, dates back to 2006). Most importantly (and with great suffering for many including yrstruly) they are not on Spotify or similar streaming services. The only way to listen to Tool is to buy physical albums like it’s last century again, or wear your eyepatch and go plunder the seven seas (i.e. pirate them). But don’t.
Still, they managed to create unprecedented attention towards their upcoming album. Hell my hype for this concert was unprecedented as well! I’ve been to quite a few gigs in my life, but never have I been so excited for one.
How? As I often say, it’s all in the product. You don’t need to talk about your thing, if your thing is just amazing. Because that’s what it was: just a mesmerising, experimental, nasty gig with nothing but exceptional music. They have this incredible music, with matching video concepts and lights. And that’s it. Tool not even for a second appear on the venue’s megascreens. They do not interact. After the first song, singer MJK goes “hey Firenza”, mispronouncing the city. He doesn’t seem to care. You don’t care. No one cares, cause the first song’s hit you in the face and you are just in love. After that, MJK does not utter a word that’s not singing. He is not even in the front of the stage, but lingers in the back. They are all about the music. Their product.
So apparently you can talk and make noise and cover the city with posters and the internet with banners, or not. If your stuff is good, people are going to want it regardless. The less you show it off, the more they will need it. Now I’m not as naive as to think they do not have some money into it: but it’s the perception that matters. It’s been 13 years since 10,000 Years, and I remember it being so out of the world at the time, and being so influential for younger me, just like Lateralus and Aenima had been before, that I swear if the new album comes out and it’s only physical copies, I’ll just go back to the old store (if it still exists) and buy both the album and a mean of listening to it, since I don’t think I even own a CD player anymore.
Soundtrack: I cannot link to any Spotify right now, hope I will be able to do so in the future. One might still go look for Lateralus on YouTube, where one might probs find some illegal versions. One should not though, cause we do not like piracy. Nor drugs. Stay in school kids.