February 03, 2007

Pay Per Post And The Populism Pose - Or, Blue-Collar vs. White-Collar Capitalism

PayPerPost, a company which pays bloggers for posts, is an A-list topic of complaint again. I've talked about "Commodification Of Social Relationships" [Old joke: Sex for a million? Yes. Sex for ten bucks? No. We're just haggling over price.], and PageRank/Link-Buying Doesn't Care About Blogger Ethics. Lots of go-around again now, but I finally was inspired by the blatant class warfare:

In the clip below, watch the blog marketing gurus hand over $1,000 in cash to ... a Chicago mother-of-four who works as a postie to make ends meet -- after she allows them to scrawl, "I <heart> HP", on her forehead. Classy.

"Classy"? As in, it's lower-class. BLUE-COLLAR. It's not what white-collar professionals do, which is, for example, keynote conferences:

Next week it'll be announced that I'm keynoting at a conference planned and sponsored by PayPerPost. This is my first speech where I'm not only having my travel and expenses paid, but they are covering my salary too. ... Why do it then? Cause I'm a capitalist and because I think that blog advertising is something that we should talk about.

Note that phrase - "Cause I'm a capitalist" - what are all the PayPerPost sharecroppers? I'll quote a different reaction, about another A-lister's complaint:

Rule number one about guys who run around to speak at conference after conference: It's expensive and they're not doing it as a philanthropic act. ...

If the real issue is around what PPP is doing to search - which serves ads inside of the more tame advertising model Jeff makes money in - then he should say so.

If the Pay Per Post marketers are, in the words of one blog-evangelist, the "sidewalk hookers of the blogosphere", then the conference-club set are its "executive escorts" (note both sidewalk hookers and executive escorts are capitalists).

But note the language: not "classy", "sidewalk hookers", vs "I'm a capitalist". It's basically, again, they are blue-collar, we are white-collar. I think "I'm a capitalist" in this context really means: "Despite my relatively well-off status, economically I still need to convert social relationships into a commercial context" (which should be acceptable) - i.e. doing it ultimately for commercial purposes, no matter how much one may seem to to be in it for a purely social relationship. Which is of course breaking the marketing of human connections.

Ultimately, all of this is exposing the rift between the propaganda of blog-evangelism and its reality. There's a tiny, tiny elite of A-listers who do a sale-pitch of populism. YOU-YES-YOU can have the power, the status, the influences, of the "priests", the "gatekeepers", the "legacy media", who DON'T-GET-IT (and *you* do!) ... if you follow the gurus into the New Era. Their constant stock-in-trade is selling dreams to the little people, and then monetizing that delusion via services, data-mining, or corporate/Big-Media consulting gigs (one dispute, too easy dismissed as "soap opera", was in fact very revealing, since it was really about trying to sell the audience to large media companies).

But: The A-listers don't *deliver* (to the suckers). A talk-radioish schtick about a revolutionary fantasy can't compare to some cold hard cash on the barrelhead. A company actually *paying* a few bucks for a blog post is going to beat some empty Power To The People pitch all hollow - at least to those who are focused on income instead of ideology.

So A-listers are being undermined both in terms of being gatekeepers of influence, and their franchise. Their pose as populists is undercut by, ironically, "democratization" of payola, which is resulting in more spreading it around (while simultaneously centralizing in the company-as-aggregator).

Sadly, given the ability of the A-listers to direct attention, those of us with any interest in associated topics are going to be subjected to their ox-being-gored screams of outrage for a long, long, time. I just hope such Z-list shouting-to-the-wind and futile gestures as this post, do at least a little good :-(.

[Update: The keynoter above has announced he'll now not accept the honorarium.]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather | on February 03, 2007 09:49 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Hey. Nice to highlight that for many, it's just a matter of price. But I must add, disclosure is still a really worthy cause to promote, as it brings all these relationships to the front. We should be suggesting it to more people.

Posted by: Webomatica at February 3, 2007 07:00 PM

Funny, just remembered Chris Pirillo and Rent My Chest. He's classy. This isn't?

Posted by: Jonathan Cohen at February 5, 2007 11:02 PM