Seth Godin: Everyone is an Expert

Seth wrote another one of his free ebooks called everyone is an expert.

The biggest problem with search is the lack of meaning. The biggest problem with content are quality & quantity. Citation based information systems make the best content hard to find unless the person creating it is already well known. Various pay per spam formats make bulk content creation too profitable to ignore. Sifting through pay per refuge makes it hard to know how honest a recommendation is. Most legit pages are wrote as being part of an ongoing dialog, and leave something to be desired if read alone.

Seth is creating a network called Squidoo which hosts pages that hopefully can stand on their own as what he calls lenses. They sound essentially like a topical link list with a bit of background information covering a specific topic.

I think off the start the idea may work, but it will still ultimately run into the same problems search & other networks do. User feedback is important, but:

  • people buy and sell links & ad space

  • people buy and sell old domains
  • people buy and sell eBay accounts
  • people spam Amazon recommend lists & Amazon reviews
  • people vote for themselves

Sure the Squidoo user feedback element may help, but if you weigh the data set on early feedback you create a top heavy system that is afraid to trust new information (sorta like what some people call the Google Sandbox effect in SEO).

Content changes over time or it becomes irrellevant. If people are studying subjects that do not change often then isn't a book usually going to be the proper information format? On most web pages how the information evolves is going to be at least as important as what it looked like when it was initially created.

What happens if Squidoo becomes popular? Is it a system that will grow smarter with each additional link list? As high ranked pages link out to other resources how do you ensure those resources do not change in negative ways over time? While also ensuring they do change in positive ways?

I know there is the financial incentive angle, but that fails frequently on the web. Look for how to create a PDF. You usually are not going to find that Open Office has a free utility. Most people are afraid to try to create something original, unique, & useful. Most businesses are me too businesses just after money.

If people are creating content to help others then why not post at the Wikipedia?

If people are creating content to feed their egos then there is going to need to be a lot more background than a link list.

Sure you can say that Squidoo can make up for the faults of the web, but I don't see how it will weed out bad recommendations while still allowing new information to get found. I think at some level you have to learn whether or not you can trust a person and no system can fully automate that.

The whole concept sounds a bit idealistic with all the frothing spam in other information formats, but it would be cool if Seth can pull it off. I wish him the best of luck in trying, as it sure will be a hard job :)

Published: October 7, 2005 by Aaron Wall in marketing


April 8, 2007 - 3:03am

I really think Seth is on to something. Will take tweaking but I think this will grow steadily.

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