mapreduce-reduces-the-map-of-the-web.jpgThe internet has this nasty habit of violently breaking down market inefficiencies.  For example, the music market was inefficient because driving to a store and exchanging money for a record was too much effort.  Downloading an album for free is a virtually frictionless process, so Napster, KaZaA and others thrived.

Now, I think the word "disruption" is mostly used by half-wits in the media to pimp something.  When you read that something is disruptive, that's an obvious tell that the journalist doesn't have a fucking clue about the technology, but is pretending that he does.  Journalists love that shit, and so do editors.  However, as an entrepreneur, you haven't created a disruption until a group of powerful old men convene in a board room to figure out how to shut you down.  You haven't created a disruption until the government is trying to regulate you.  You haven't created a disruption until there's a media campaign against you.

That being said, I love the idea of paid posting and sponsored conversations: companies paying bloggers to talk about their shit.  Why? Because it's really pissing off people who make a living out of public relations.

When I was writing Uncov, I would get several e-mails daily from PR agencies, pitching me a story on such and such a shitty startup.  This is how it works: your company pays a PR agency for the size of their Rolodex.  The PR agency spams the publications with your press release in hopes that the story gets picked up.  In the tech media, the hit rate for PR isn't terribly high, so you end up spending upwards of $10,000 per month on PR that only gets your company a few writeups.  It's a scam.

A company like PayPerPost, now Izea, has removed that market inefficiency.  You can simply pay bloggers directly to write about you.   Whether or not they disclose that they're being paid, well, who gives a shit? You get the Google link juice, you get the attention, and if it comes out that you paid for it, the internet has the attention span of a fruit fly, so everyone will forget about in 24 hours.

Any blogger that takes a stand against paid posting is delusionally self-important.  There is no morality to "citizen journalism" by definition.  The idea is that the traditional media will die in favor of hundreds of thousands of individual reporters, all working for themselves.  The good ones will rise to the top, but everybody will keep talking.  In this type of scheme, there is no force whatsoever that can stop paid placement.  With a few large media outlets, like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other newspapers, paid placement isn't an issue because so much credibility is at stake.

Not so on the internet.  Complain about it all you want, but paid placement is a necessary side effect of user-generated media.  Regulations against it are like speed limits: there's bound to be some marginal enforcement, but by and large, it does nothing to prevent it. 

It's what we wanted, now it's what we've got.