A large part of making business successful is leveraging your authority and using nepotism to extend your sphere of influence. If things look a bit circular in nature that is because they are. Nearly everything you consume has a self promotional bias, but is that any reason to complain? Wouldn't be even scarier if the things you enjoyed and associated with were self destructing?
Examples of Self Promotional Bias in the Media:
If a politician pushes bogus laws (that they know will never be passed) for self promotion and news coverage then why wouldn't the media companies that grant that exposure also grant themselves some leeway? Do you think a news company owned by GE is going to publish a cover story about pollution by GE? Do you think Fox News will stand up against their big advertisers (even when their advertisers are responsible for causing cancer)? Of course not.
The bigger something gets the more hidden stakeholders it has to appeal to. Very rarely do owners get the opportunity to speak honestly about large companies. In many cases they are obligated not to in order to maximize shareholder value. I have had VCs offer to invest in me multiple times but have refused time and time again because I don't want hidden stakeholders controlling my actions.
People discouraging institutional analysis may say Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent is a conspiracy theory, but why would it be? What business isn't biased toward their own self interests? Self preservation is a core goal of any institution.
Many junk products exist with demand driven by hype, spam, and scammy multi-level marketing, but many
business models exists because we as consumers have holes in our egos and want to lie to ourselves to justify our own flaws and actions.
As technology replaces the roles of many workers while making communication cheaper and easier, people have to do more to earn a living and it is harder to create new ideas, so we have to do more cause driven things to feel purpose and meaning in life.
We want to believe that ethanol
is providing cleaner fuel even if creating it takes more energy than it creates.
As for the environmental impact, well, where do we begin? As an oxygenate, ethanol increases the level of nitrous oxides in the atmosphere and thus causes smog. The scientific literature is also divided about whether the energy inputs required to produce ethanol actually exceed its energy output. It takes fertilizer to grow the corn, and fuel to ship and process it, and so forth. Even the most optimistic estimate says ethanol's net energy output is a marginal improvement of only 1.3 to one. For purposes of comparison, energy outputs from gasoline exceed inputs by an estimated 10 to one.
Bias in Consumption:
A new study based on a series of seven US polls conducted from January through September of this year reveals that before and after the Iraq war, a majority of Americans have had significant misperceptions and these are highly related to support for the war in Iraq.
The polling, conducted by the Program on International Policy (PIPA) at the University of Maryland and Knowledge Networks, also reveals that the frequency of these misperceptions varies significantly according to individuals' primary source of news. Those who primarily watch Fox News are significantly more likely to have misperceptions, while those who primarily listen to NPR or watch PBS are significantly less likely.
Just like how we want to believe certain lies to make ourselves feel good, we also consume things
that reinforce our identities and worldviews.
How many decidedly centrist political blogs are successful compared to the number of strong democrat and strong republican blogs? It is easier to trust things that are easy to relate to, and trust has more value than objectivity.
I probably read just about every blog post that links to my site because I want to know why people are
talking about me. Is that a self serving bias? Absolutely. But why wouldn't I have that bias?
Changing Someone Else's Worldview:
It is much easier to sell someone something they want than to try to change their worldview.
An SEO thought they were going to change the image of SEOs on Digg by writing a letter about SEO. After getting many votes it was promptly removed from the Digg.com homepage.
It is even easy for a well rounded guy like Scott Karp to view SEO in a negative light after seeing so much negative coverage of the topic. Scott was more receptive to feedback than Digg because he only needs to change his opinion, he doesn't have to go against the group think consensus on Digg to change his content.
It is easy to be popular as a politician in the US by hating terrorists, gays, and gay terrorists. It is easy to be popular on Digg by hating SEOs. Neither of those mean that the blind hate is correct or has any value (other than realizing it creates a market that is easy to exploit - because as a market they are targeted and already letting others exploit them).
Many business owners create business models that explicitly are designed to take advantage of the blind faith, bigotry, ignorance, and hypocrisy core to many popular religions, or other large self-serving authority structures.
As markets mature, market leaders have less time to learn (because they are so overwhelmed with things to do). Given that publishing costs have dropped to zero and web business models are so scalable, is it any wonder that market leaders tend to read less and do more testing on their own (especially if they became a market leader as a side effect of learning)?
In any such environment the good will rise and then naturally protect themselves by strengthening their following (herd). If you want to get to the top (topple them, beat them, match them, whatever), you have to build your own following, your own herd.
What are we doing about this right now? Are you actively finding, reading and linking to one new SEO blog a day?
If you want to be read, then you have to be interesting and you have to attract attention. That's the way it works best - asking for attention or saying that you deserve it won't help.
And yet on my recent blog post about the recent Google (update algo tweak refresh whatever) Aaron Pratt said this:
I am not seeing any loss/gain of earnings in Adsense which leads me to believe their is nothing going on.
Being a good SEO is about noticing patterns beyond your own experiences and surrounding yourself with others who can do the same.
Notice that I didn't outright call the latest Google Update an update, because Google heavily controls that language and wants to obfuscate examination of their changes (wait for the official word from Google on the data push / update / refresh / etc). Just how Google controls their update language, their self promotional bias and control of search related language is largely responsible for the public perception of SEO.
My Experiences With Authority:
Less than 5 years ago I got kicked out of the military. Since then:
- I have been flown to a college and asked if I want to become a professor, but I think I wanted far more money than they wanted to pay. Since then I have created numerous passive income streams that far exceed what they would have paid.
- I have had multiple VCs want to by a stake in my businesses, but turned them down.
- I have been offered to get published by a major publishing house, but turned it down because it would have screwed up my business model. There is no business model in getting published unless you are publishing a thinly disguised advertisement or need the publisher for credibility.
- I have been mentioned in the mainstream media numerous times. Not typically for the stuff I know best, but more for getting sued and for being the person who spent $8 registering BlackHatSeo.com. I have had done some long interviews that have never seen the light of day because I was far too honest.
Those were all opportunities at traditional forms of authority, and generally I turned them down because they were not worth the cost. The point here is that generally I am not a fan of most authorities.
Becoming an Authority:
If you are new to the market you do have biases against you: capital, market knowledge, relationships and attention. But you also have the advantage of being able to take the time to create really cool stuff and do lots of tests because people are not expecting you to do lots of things every day, and you can learn from mistakes of those who entered the market before you.
To get market recognition in a saturated market you have to come up with new, interesting, or innovative things. And if you can't do those you have to at least cause human emotions...do things that appeal to people and make people feel love or hate. Look how new SEOMoz is and they are already on the 1st page of Google for SEO and got a ton of media coverage.
If bias toward known authorities is something that is a common flaw with humans and all social structures there is little value in complaining about it. Instead accept it for what it is and let it feed into your marketing. Sure the Good Old Boy's club sucks, but if you don't offer solutions, then complaints about flaws in human nature are void of meaning.
"Resource" is an encomium bestowed only by users; "authority" is bestowed only by previously recognized authorities. Anyone who calls himself either one, is just an ego with vocal chords.
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