You know how it is on the internet, you follow a link from here to there, and before you know it, you have hopped, skipped and jumped into a whole new world altogether. Oftentimes, you click, knowing there is no real point, beyond the mild curiosity that one of life’s bigger issues may actually be addressed, even solved, without the necessity of expenditure. The infallible Hollywood way to erase belly fat is one of these. It seems to involve eggs. Fried eggs? Sometimes bananas. That’s all they’re telling you. Banana pancakes may well be the answer. Likewise, the 9 words Men need to hear to make them stay. What are these nine magical words? A-ha. They’d lose all their magic wouldn’t they, if they were actually going to be divulged. That ad is ubiquitous, I see it everywhere, or, is it following me around?! Like the 10 Ugly Mistakes Women make which ruin relationships? Ugly. Such a taunting word. It works though. It makes you doubt. And then you click. And then you think:Sucker!
Which brings me, somewhat circuitously I must admit, to the point. We all know it’s all about the ads. Nothing gets sold otherwise, and that’s the whole point of everything. To sell stuff and make money, and keep the world turning, and keep facebook free, and newsprint flowing(except for the media barons crouched behind their paywalls); so we all get targeted, more and more specifically, more and more of the time. That 53 year old mother who looks 20. She sells whatever that gloopy mask is she’s pulling off her ravaged old face! So anyway, given that clicking now initiates spending, and this generates revenue, I was intrigued to stumble across Squidoo, which kind of takes this up and runs with it. In a rather joyful and maniacally cheerful fashion.
Founded by no less than Seth Godin, 5 years ago, on Squidoo, you build pages which are called lenses, and there are thousands of topics, just like on here. Lots and lots of impassioned people who want to write and share their stories about anything and everything under the sun. The difference is that on Squidoo the lensmasters (writers) are actively encouraged to sell stuff too, while they’re at it. Lenses have inbuilt modules which effortlessly link into Amazon, Ebay, YouTube and so forth, and a share of royalties from any sales could come back to the author. It is a people’s marketplace. Reviews and recommendations rule in retail and maybe this is because, living more and more online as we do, its the only “word of mouth” we are hearing.There is an entire industry out there in lenses, people who build them for you, people who sell them, people who are making serious dosh. It doesn’t have to be based on greed, there is a strong suggestion to donate to charity instead, and the folk at Squidoo maintain a balance somewhere between “Go for it” (as in, pepper your lens liberally with links) and “We’re onto you” (If you do this too much, too conspicuously, or too cash-centrically; we will stomp on you) Apparently they were hit by Panda, and have bounced back again, which is a bit beyond my powers of comprehension, quite frankly. I have a feeling it might mean it’s not as easy to profit from it as it was.
I just thought this could be a good place to prattle on about books and music, as those are the main things a)I like and b) I like to buy, and Amazon is the main place I buy them from. And it didn’t feel unethical to suggest that others may choose to do that too. Yes, yes, I know there is a whole moral arguement about Amazon not paying their taxes, but that’s for another day. Although might just put in a quick word here for Abe Books, who are really cheap and an awesome competitor to that particular Goliath.
So, as with any new place, you wander in and find your way around a bit and have a little think – where shall I go next? What shall I try next? And because I had this lovely photo I took on my phone the other night, and it had got me pondering about a poem, I made a lens about it. It was an appreciation of Yeats “The Song of Wandering Aengus” which led to a prompt to try listening to it on the Waterboys album “An Appointment with Mr Yeats” not least because it has the loveliest flute solo as a coda, which fades, like the glimmering girl “into the brightening air” and it so full of a confused optimistic sorrow that it could cause liquefaction in just about any solid material, not exempting any human heart.
How to put apple-blossom in your hair was a consideration to me as I rattled off this piece of prose. She must have had a bun, I decided, and stuck it in there. It’s not like a frangipani and you can just tuck one behind your ear. The stems are quite stiff and woody and couldn’t be held in with a kirby grip. I didn’t suppose William B had thought about that when he was turning a trout into a girl. So, yes, I posted this little lens, and got an 100% rating, which is a good thing on Squidoo, and off I went to mow the grass, which as you can see from this photo, was long overdue.
Later on, a stern email pinged in from SquidHQ. My lens had been blocked, found guilty of plagiarism, using material otherwise available on the web,and would be banned forevermore. I was pretty stunned. I know for an absolute certainty, that what I wrote came straight out of my own head and from nowhere else, though what it actually said, I have no way of checking, as it’s gone. Swallowed by the squid! Perhaps it was that I quoted the actual poem, but it is long out of copyright? It can’t be that I linked to the Waterboys album, as this is what Squidoo want you to do.
It took a lot longer than it might have sounded above to create this lens, as you can have to add modules – rather like building blocks – and, on my computer anyway, the photos always take ages to upload and then are too large and you have to re-size them. And then it stalls. The long and the short of it is that I WASTED precious time making this tiny contribution to Yeats’ appreciation, and it has been obliterated. I feel I should warn others who are thinking of trying out Squidoo.
There are many other battles to be fought, big grown-up stuff, like remembering to book the dentist, persuading the council to make the bin lorry come up the lane, finally reaching to the back of the fridge to remove that pot with the foil over it that’s been there since Christmas, origins unknown. I can’t be bothered to protest about this to Squidoo. They say they are always right. I can’t take on a Squid, I only have two arms. I don’t know whether to go back there or not now.
If anyone else had has a similar (unjust) upset I’d be interested to hear.