The nature of the Internet

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jethro's picture

It never ceases to amaze me; the stupidity of people. As Charles Mackay wrote long ago in his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds men go mad in herds but only come to their senses one by one.

It seems there are some people who just really do not understand the Internet, and in their rush (or greed) to get rich quickly ignore all the commonsense and warnings of those who like Darren Rowse have achieved some measure of wealth from blogging. How? Darren explains often that his website is not his mail money maker, rather his Digital Photography school website is. He provides a real product for real people.

And so to the point of this article, and the nature of the Internet that seems to have been forgotten in the glimmer of fools gold. As Doug McCaughan sagely observes, people use the web for Information, Utility and Entertainment, in that order.

So where are the fools? I think there are two types.

There will always be the gullible amongst us, those who listen but do not understand, who rush in and get it wrong. These will be easily parted from their money, and they generally are. If there is a scam going they will be into it. they never seem to get any wealthier because they are always trying this new thing and that new thing. They never actually stick at a thing long enough to make any money out of it. A typical example back before the Internet was the newspaper advert, "Send me $5 and a self addressed envelope for a free book explaining how to get rich". On sending your $5 a book is returned - saying 1 thing only - "thanks for the $5". Some people won't get that! There's no point explaining. Nowadays it is of course far more sophisticated but the same simple premise is there hidden behind the technical waffle - get enough fools to listen to my blather and charge them $1 or $5 each and I will be rich. And so the fools come charging in and part with their cash.

That leads me to the second type of fool, but fools for a different reason. This may well anger some, but I think its true regardless. They are those with the ethics that allow them to take advantage of the gullible, and make the easy buck, because they can. Why do I think they are fools? Because they cannot see the path that their ethics takes them. They are making money, and they get lost in that fact. Some are making very good money, but their wealth is transient. Their money is only good while there is a steady stream of fools (type 1) lining up at their doors looking for the easy dollar. And so they waffle endlessly about Search Engine Optimisation, marketing techniques, and rankings and statistics. they are driven by the constant need to maintain the illusion of arcane knowledge, of some guru like power. They jostle endlessly for meaningless status, Technorati top100, etc.


True wealth lies in the creation of a good or service that satisfies the customer. That may be information, but the information has to have a point, not be the point, or we are back to the $5 and the SAE. And now to come full circle to the start of this post. If you haven't read the book I mentioned then do so. It is free if you read it online or can be purchased for $5 or so. It does not promise riches. In fact it warns of the madness of the greed that riches cause, and the wise will have their eyes opened and maybe come to their senses.

Darren writes on problogger how he made his money. I don't bother writing how I made mine, but I make as much if not more than Darren per year. How? I offer real services, real value to real customers. My Internet business is growing, I am employing staff and I can point to real satisfied customers who have real businesses supplying real goods and services to real people. This did not happen overnight. I have spent 11 years studying the Internet, and 4 actively pursuing making a living on it. For 3 of those 4 I made virtually nothing. In the last year I have turned over well over $100K purely from business derived from the Internet (not counting all my other income). I am looking at growth well beyond that this year. I used my other businesses to support me while I was developing this income. I am not an overnight sensation. I do not care overly much about page rankings or minute changes in traffic details. This is probably the only post I will ever write about how much I make; but it is important, not for that fact, but for the chance that I may help some people turn from their madness.

And I do not need you to pay me $5 for me to offer that advice!