March 13, 2009

How The Internet Works.

Filed under: Digital Distribution, Information Supernova, Media Origination — Robert John Ed @ 2:17 pm

This is something on my mind near all the time.  The Internet and how it works.  This is probably the most important thing any one business person can learn in the coming years and generations.  The reasons for this should be obvious, but as a quick recap, think about how things have drastically altered in the last few years.  Did you think you’d be looking for jobs solely online ten years ago?  Figure you’d be shopping for everything from groceries to automobiles online?  Think you could work remotely from any location on the planet any day you choose?  Have every single piece of information at your fingertips or be able to send email at 30,000 feet?

All these things are mere pebbles at the foot of a mountain.  Everything is changing and will continue to do so.  Being in this space is not an option, it’s the only viable channel in the future (as far as we can see).

It’s really difficult to describe how the internet works; I’m not speaking about bits, bytes and packets or how information is disseminated and sent.  I’m speaking as to how things become popular and of note on “teh webs.”  Marketing online is going to be the number one objective of ANY consumer based company within ten years.  Mark(et) my words.  So understanding how people use the internet, how they view advertising and promotion or WOM online is so critical I can’t begin to explain.  Knowing what gets a website to the top of a Google SERP (or even Yahoo or MSN) is really important too!  You don’t need to know how to code, but you do need to know how the system works in general.  It’s important.  Every marketer should have to read something like this, I did and it was monumentally valuable.

Another phenomena is how individual sites or forums work.  Twitter is essentially a HUGE forum where people can get popular from followers and develop influence.  This can be used in a number of ways but it’s generally accepted that intelligent folks can make this influence profitable in a number of ways.  These types of people are the new PR conduits.  Do you understand what a power user is?  It’s very important.  These types of users will hold critical sway over what content and ideas become spoken about and commented on, what hits critical mass and groundswell around the web.  This is true of forum based sites (news aggregators, communication sites) but also of the internet itself.  Bloggers with huge followings point out things that they deem interesting or newsworthy and this sets of a chain reaction of comments, add on posts, links and ideas that can proliferate into new action or fizzle with a thud.

This holds particular relevance as many marketers want to build a huge audience and parlay it into a career or something.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s definitely not an easy thing to do.  Is it a good idea?  I’m not sure.  I really don’t want a lot of people following me that I wouldn’t associate with in real life because they were coaxed into it somehow through whatever.  Of course, people with real ideas and honesty that want to be friends are welcomed with open arms.  I have friends that obviously want to be “popular” on the internet, I’m sure some would like to be web celebrities.  That’s definitely not my style, but more power to them.  There are a lot of great people I follow that are very popular (Winer, Fred Wilson, Calacanis, Cuban, etc.)  because they offer real content that empowers me in some way or gets me thinking differently.  Those guys are something.  Then there are a lot of others that I’ve followed for a time and realized they aren’t really talking about anything.  They just pontificate on the same tired subjects, they mimic.  Some are good enough at it to build a solid following, but I wouldn’t want them on a C-level board.  It’s pretty obvious who’s really carries their share of the water intellectually after reading for a few years.  Honesty, ability, and transparency are the big three things to look for.  Don’t worry about how many people follow or read them.  Worry about what they are saying.

Honesty is monumental in that a lot of people will say anything to get you on their side, even when they don’t mean it.  Smart folks on the internet know when to disagree and how to do it.  Getting in flame wars with people is a waste of time and if people aren’t going to take the time to be civil, they aren’t worth the breath.  Ability probably trumps all, but even the most talented people aren’t worth the time if they aren’t social.  One person I read for a few months was obviously a smart person and knew consulting about as well as anyone (as well as how to make money at it) but he was a jerk.  He would berate people who wrote in with disagreements and was a self anointed deity…in his own eyes.  I’d link to him, but he doesn’t deserve it.  It was obvious that he wanted to prove how great he was, he had a picture of himself in front of a Bentley on his site and was likely dealing with self worth issues.  The ones that act the strongest are quite often the weakest.  Lastly transparency is needed on the web.  People will fact check you.  People will investigate your honesty and let everyone know (within a tweets message time) that you are a liar or doing something dishonest or whatever.  You can’t fake it on the internet folks.  You either are or you aren’t and people are going to find out one way or another.

Everything is recorded here, which is why honesty, ability and transparency are needed.  Anything you say or do will be held in all eternity for the world to view and judge.  If you write it, you had better be able to stand by it for the long haul.  Or explain your thoughts at the time.  Yet it’s a huge asset to have your thoughts down over the course of years.  When someone wants to know you or what you do, being able to see your story how YOU wanted to frame it is very powerful.  You are now in control.  This is your resume, your calling card, your world.  Build it how you see fit.

The internet is a macrocosm of ideas and human thought processes going at a light year per second.  Music (a favorite), news, politics, inventions, products and companies, anything that is anything is examined and thrown aside or exaulted as the next sliced bread here in bits of minutia.  This already is and will continue to be where successes are made.  It’s changing everything that was in terms of communication and structured processes.  It just blows everything up.

There are far more examples of how the collective interests and communications of others build a new world, but I can’t wrap my head around them yet.  SO MUCH is changing that I’m unaware of.  I don’t know what I don’t know.

This is a topic I’ll continue to revisit, but more importantly you should be thinking about what is changing and if you understand it.  You have to be here, if you like it or not.  The information supernova is here to stay.  My apologies for the length of this post, if you got here, thanks.




  1. […] View post: How The Internet Works. […]

    Pingback by How The Internet Works. « Financial Blogger — March 13, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  2. Just want to say hey and i have read some great articles from you.

    Comment by Calzro — March 15, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

  3. Thanks for stopping by Calzro, I appreciate you reading.

    Comment by Robert John Ed — March 15, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

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