Computers and InternetSocial MediaWriting

Explosion in mush and junk online content

We’ve seen an explosion in the volume of online content in two areas: “mush content” and “junk content”.

Mush content is the type of writing you see in the “Pulse” section of LinkedIn. The point is typically to promote yourself with a generic feel-good publication. It is politically correct and typically designed to appeal to a wide audience. There is perceived value in seeing yourself in print no matter how watered-down the content. In fact, we could argue that there is more value in being bland to avoid controversy and cutting-edge topics that could move away from your current perspective. The professional versions of mush content rely on some aspect of shock motivation to attract and find their way onto Facebook news feeds. Online publishers like Addictinginfo, Huffington Post and Onion are clear on their winning formula for online success. Mush sells.

Junk content is primarily machine-generated by plagiarizing other online material. If you are not aware of the massive amounts of this flooding the internet, then you are lucky.  The purpose appears to be to draw internet traffic and then route it to a revenue-producing source. More sophisticated technologies do the “hand-off” before the viewer ever views (and recognizes) the junk content so this means that the junk content is purely SEO driven. While Google and others are pretty effective in removing this type of spam from search results, the effectiveness never approaches 100% so a normal consumer browsing the web is likely to encounter this type of content. I find my earlier articles re-purposed in this junk content almost every day. There is nothing I can do to prevent it. Apparently junk also sells.

The relative few of us left to publish content based on actual data or creative thought are easily overwhelmed by the massive amount online noise in these other segments. Social media enforces that everybody has an opinion and is not afraid to share it equally. It is a miracle that professional reviewers, critics columns and professional op/ed writers even exist anymore given our appetite for ridiculous online content.

I also know that no good effort goes unpunished and that readers will sooner or later let me know about every error in my attempt to gather and make sense of the facts. Those, like me, who give advice about evolving issues know that our work is likely either: A) be wrong at the moment we write it, or B) will become wrong as the facts continue to evolve. Ironically, it seems that every but of outdated advice I’ve published over 30 years seems to have found a new life in some Asian or third world server and its new proprietors appear to be far more effective in “getting out the message” than I ever was!

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