Archive for October 7th, 2003

Orlowski Pooning in the Blogosphere (about BloggerCon)


In Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash,
the ever energized 15-year-old hero and woman/girl Y.T. surfs the
highways as a skateboard-riding courier. She propels herself by
“pooning” speeding cars. Her poon is a powerful magnet slung at passing
autos. When her poon hits the steel sides of a car and sticks, the
attached cable pulls taut and off Y.T. goes! Wild ride, with little
energy expended by Y.T.  Hot transport!

Andrew Orlowski has perfected “pooning in the blogosphere.” He picks a speeding target, such as BloggerCon or The Second SuperPower Rears Its Beautiful Head,
writes a “poon” in the form of a flame attached to the rising web
topic, and off he goes pulled along by another’s efforts. His slash of
BloggerCon was briefly at the top of Daypop. That’s hot.  Longer
term, because of the way Google works, if Andrew attracts enough links
to his poon, he and his story will be displayed with BloggerCon on the
first page of Google searches for that topic.  Andrew complains
about the Google Page Rank system while benefiting from it to keep his
name in the public eye.  Ah, you have to love this tactic! 
Pooning provides Andrew with a very good return on his investment. For
example, he didn’t have to travel to Cambridge to participate
face-to-face in BloggerCom, he just sat in San Francisco and wrote
about it. Some may not want to use this tactic because of its
troll-like negativity and its lack of depth, but it is effective at
generating traffic.

I’ve never met Andrew, but I’ve grown to
value him and his flames of me. Without Andrew’s attacks, I’m pretty
much an obscure researcher at Harvard Law School. On a campus with the
likes of Alan Dershowitz, Lawrence Tribe and Charlie Nesson plus a host
of other notables, I’m not much noticed. I study bridging the digital
divide, and the use of the Internet in politics. Most of the time these
topics are not the subject of big news (the Dean campaign to the
contrary). But every time Andrew posts about me, traffic to my sites
goes wild. He has become a major distributor of my memes. So much so
that one person wondered if he and I are secretly conspiring to do a
“dutch admiral” strategy of mutually-beneficial reciprocal referral.

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