Day 259: Green Dwarf

The Sole Of Sci-Fi has a colour blind problem…

september 16 main

Right, now, y’see, earlier in the year I had the freedom to match shoes to themes. So if I’d thought of using a scutter in a photo in, say, February, I could have matched it with a pair of red trainers. This late in the challenge, it’s a case of using what I’m given, or what I can get cheap off eBay. And while I’ve mentioned before that it’s always easy to get cheap Nike bleachers on eBay (and it’s equally easy to sell them on again at car boot sales), you don’t get much choice in the colours.

Anyway, finally I have my internet back, and – typically – today I also had three deadlines. That’s why I’m a bit late posting the Blog. Then again, that’s one of the advantages of freelancing – I don’t have to fit in the Blog before work every day.

Talking of the Blog, I got one of those “cold call” emails yesterday, from an online search optimisation company telling me how crap my Blog is and why it doesn’t feature prominently on internet search pages. It actually used the phrase “quality of content is not of sufficient quality” before informing me that by signing up for their services, I could become an internet sensation.

Well, first – I question the wisdom of insulting anyone (no matter the actual quality of their website) when you’re trying to secure their business. It’s especially amusing when they tell someone who’e edited a bestselling magazine and a massively successful website that they’re doing it all wrong.

Of course, I know this industry to know well enough that it was nothing personal. The guy probably hadn’t even seen this blog; or if he had, he clearly actually hadn’t understood what it was for (a daily update for a charity challenge) and just judged it against a check list of bland, generic “what makes a good website” items.

This is why I’m suspicious of SEO. That’s Search Engine Optimisation, if you’ve never heard that particular piece of jargon before. It has its uses; if you have a good website, it’s good to know the tricks which make it more likely to turn up in Google and yahoo searches.  But increasingly SEO is becoming more than just a way of giving sites a greater reach; it’s starting to dictate what gets written, how it gets written and how long it should be written. SEO demands “call it a spade” headlines; links – internal and external – at every opportunity; continued use of buzz phrases as often and as early as possible; multi-page articles and articles of a certain length.

It’s a worrying trend, because it means that great journalism is stifled by a set of quantifiable values. Of course, publishers and bosses prefer sets of quantifiable values; the SEO checklist feels similar to their spreadsheets, rather than something as ethereal and unmeasurable as damned good writing or providing a good service to the readers.

It’s nothing new; Hollywood and the music business has been honing the art of making creativity conform to business rules for decades. It’s what happens in business; a necessary evil. It means (if it works) that businesses grow, employ more people, contribute more to the economy, and nurture more creatives, yadda, yadda, yadda. But it does mean a lot a great creativity is straitjacketed, undernourished or never discovered. There has to be  happy medium, surely?

Maybe we should start a new campaign: Page Two Day. We set aside a day on which whenever we use a search engine, we refuse to click on any of the sites the first page of result. You might discover some real gems hidden away among the second or third tiers of sites – well written articles by people who haven’t got a marketing department behind them saying, “No humour in headlines!”

Anybody with me?

(I’m guaranteeing that my mum – who loyally reads this every Blog every day – will not have understood a word of that.)

See you tomorrow.

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• Current total: £1,200 

• Remember this is all for charity, so any pennies or pounds you can spare PLEASE DONATE BY CLICKING HERE.

• Follow me on Twitter to make sure you see what trainers I’m wearing each day.

• If you have any trainers you could donate (either on loan or old pairs you’re getting rid of) which are size 9 (ish – I can do anything  from 8 to 10) contact me at davegolderSFX@gmail.com so I can arrange collection.

• Please, please, please leave comments below! I’m after ideas for mini-challenges, future photoshoots and how I can find enough pairs of trainers!

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