Tuesday, March 12, 2013

After Dark, March 12, 2013

Web Three-Point-Crap
What is happening to the internet may turn theatre's friend into our worst enemy
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois

The famous Web 2.0 has come and gone and during its reign as an open space, a friendly space, an interactive space, it also became a space ideal to our theatres. Within it we could share ideas, build actual works of art, gossip, laugh and, of course, sell product (plays and tickets). Within this space was born Facebook and Twitter, Blogger (you are reading a Blogger site right now) and the do-it-yourself websites that small companies could figure out without hiring a tech-head. There was YouTube for promo vids, there was Flickr and, even, Instagram for sharing production shots (and Dropbox to make sure they got to the press).

But now we are heading towards Web 3.0 and it is a wild place filled with bandits and charlatans, crack whores and killers. I am not talking about the sick (ie: pedophiles) who have always been on the web. I am talking about institutionalized thievery. 

Take Facebook. 

Then, though, there are the Commies. 

One of our writers has just put up an author's fan page in advance of a novel of his coming out shortly. His Facebook page had a buttload of "likers" very quickly and he thought this would help him sell books. However, like a mean older brother telling the Benjamin Santa doesn't exist, I had to explain how Facebook strangles information going out from his fan page to his fans. CharPo have 300-some fans on Facebook. We post at least two items a day (and often up to six). The calculation is 300 fans times 2 times 7 days and you get 4200 exposures to our fans a week. However, Facebook tells us that even though the friends of our fans number 150,000 our 4200 exposures have reached a pathetic 1300 people (and that's on a good week - it's usually about 500). Now, if we want to reach the full 150k well then...cha-ching please. Facebook makes no difference between our writer, CharPo's small fan base and Coca-Cola's FB page. You want to tell your "friends" something, pay. Yes, sure, this is capitalism and I get that. But for us to reach those magic friends of friends, would cost us hundreds of dollars weekly for our posts. For the price we would, basically, be spamming our friends' pages and would be ignored and, pretty soon, unfriended as well.

Yeah, that's capitalism and I get it. Simply, we are giving up on Facebook and are going to a newsletter which costs us only $10 a month and costs you nothing (to subscribe) and we're nuturing our Twitter feed. Capitalism...what're you gonna do?

Then, though, there are the Commies. 

I am not talking about socialists, or hippies growing organic carrots on a farm. I am talking about the Chinese. You have - or should have read - stories about the Chinese hacking the New York Times or blocking CNN. But this week CharPo got a taste of Chinese intrusion when, late one night, one article was suddenly visited by over 2400 Chinese in a two hour period, and (in what may have been a battle with the Chinese by Blogger/Google) 400 Americans. 

Now I cannot be sure if this was one of those scary brute force attacks (where someone is launching an algorithm to try and steal code words and, ultimately, web sites). But I will tell you a real thing that has arisen at our site, fresh out of Asian and Eastern Euopean tech-sweatshops: spamming. Tech-sweatshops have turned spamming into an art form. (Tech-sweatshops are like call-centres except more haphazardly organized and not famous for the clarity of what is sent out there.) The Asian companies used to deal in virtual goods (virtual currencies for online games) but are now handling PR! They're fairly stupid about it...so far. You can act now and I have. Companies right here in North America are outsourcing online publicity to Asia. How do I know? I have confronted them. A stereo-TV store in Toronto began to spam our website with near-imbecile level English (a dead giveaway on the foreign connection). "It's in reality a nice and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you just shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing. my web site..." 

I explained to them that their PR firm was turning their brand into shit.

So, wtf!, I visited the website and found a Facebook page and spammed it. Finally the Facebook page managers asked who I was and I explained to them that their PR firm was turning their brand into shit. In another case a law firm in Florida was doing the same thing so - wtf! - I phoned them and got satisfaction. Then another spammer's website gave a Twitter handle and I attacked them back from that angle. The three companies, it is to be hoped, stopped outsourcing their fucking PR to tech-sweats. 

Web 3.0 is turning into a steaming pile of shit pretty fucking fast because not everyone has the time (or the spirit of vengeance) I do. If you don't fight back against the Chinese, the Asian and Eastern Euopean spammers, the American spyware or the grotesque capitalism of organizations like Facebook you lose. If the people who made the internet great (for instance, the many artists who have written brilliance for this very site) don't take back control of this magnificent resource, then we will pay, somewhere down the line, and pay a heavy Facebook-style price. 

The first thing we all must do - the least thing - is to loudly denounce any abuse we see. It's all well and good to be artists, but it's time to get our heads out of the clouds and protect the worlds we have built in a very different kind of Cloud.

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