Penguins and Pandas and Spiders, Oh My!

Google spider bots internet
Oh, look at the cute little internet
spiders.  Only poisonous to bad urls.
The internet is run by machines.  Not Terminators, or Agent Smith type robots, but rather, analytical programs that skim the internet trying to find relevant material on billions of different subject matters.  Google, obviously, is at the forefront of this task, trying not only to capture the millions of pieces of new material posted daily, but also trying to document the past by scanning EVERY book ever printed.  Have fun with that. 

Fortune Cookie IRS will forgive you
Wesley Snipes' infamous fortune cookie.  
But try as they might, the internet, and search engines fail at being human.  Or it could be, that human manipulation--our great weapon, is good at tricking the internet.  For years, Internet browsers  attempted to rank websites and pages by using a term called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.  It rewarded simple language filled with “keywords.”  You could type the words How+ To+ Beat+ the+ IRS in your searchbar, and you would get ten spam filled pages of crazy people who filled their websites with anti-government comments and seminars on beating the tax code.  They did this by hitting on a few keywords over and over again.  Like having a conversation with a four year old boy who just discovered the movie Cars, and will talk of nothing else.    Their websites were usually filled with ads, and many pages look like they were either typed by a college student in India or written by someone with a fourth grade understanding of the English language.  Still happens today, especially on sites where people are trying to beat the IRS.  

Lou Ferrigno Incredible Hulk 70s 1970s
Google, like the IRS, often hires Lou
Ferrigno when it gets upset. 
But Google is trying to change the image of the internet.  It recognized that the internet is 75% spam and porn.   People trying to hawk their garage-sale merchandize ideas onto the unsuspecting public, or lure them in with smut like present day carnival barkers.  So Google introduced two new analytical programs called Penguin and Panda.  Penguin attempts to punish sites that fill their pages with an overabundance of keywords, links to other “shady” sites, and duplicate (or plagiarized) content.  The sites you click on, and quickly leave when you realize there is nothing of value on their pages.  Many early internet pioneers set up thirty mirror websites filled with nothing but links to their other pages, all trying to sell similar things while pretending to be competitors.  Google no like.  Google GET ANGRY. 

Google Panda, introduced last year, is another attempt to humanize or legitimize the internet.  This program attempts to validate pages by actual human interest.  Instead of clicking on a page and quickly clicking off; Panda rewards sites that people stay on for long periods of time, return often, share on their social network sites, hit the facebook “like” button, or better yet, hit the Google + button on the bottom or sides of the screen.  It rewards original internet material that actual humans find valuable.  It’s why there are now social network buttons everywhere on every website to notify your social world about how good this or that story is.  This, in theory, is a great idea.  And many crummy websites saw a distinct drop in traffic.  
Google Panda graph image

Lady Gaga twitter picture
Lady Gaga:  "We were
all born superstars."
Her 3 million twitter
followers aren't though 
Where Panda falters, is that people with exorbitant influence, people who have 5,000 facebook friends, or 100K twitter followers, get a page rank boost. People or sites that are already famous, will remain so.   It’s the reason that Kim Kardashian has stayed relevant if only for her talentless body.  She has people who follow her no matter what train wreck she attempts to do next.  Our society is great at following the advice of millionaires, especially those with pleasant derriĆ©res; and especially loves to watch them drive erratically through life. .  I’m a really good driver, I drive an economical car, and my backside is nondescript.  Maybe that’s why I don’t have a ton of social networking friends.  I don’t crash and burn enough.  Irregardlessly (my favorite made up word), I was tempted recently to buy twitter followers.  Don’t judge me.  It was a moment of weakness.  They were selling 30 thousand twitter followers for $35.00.  What power that would give me.  I could write: @plumbeddown-minions: do my bidding, and link my blog site so that publishers will notice me!  But after my moment of tyrant-like insanity passed, I realized that those “followers” would be incredibly annoying.  I don’t even like twitter.  I’d like it even less if random paid followers tweeted stuff back at me like, @plumbeddown: git pir8ed copys of #Battleship direct from CHINA B4 its to L8!  I wonder if corrupt corporations feel this type of regret after buying moronic Congressmen and Legislators.   

So I sit here and write.  I have a nice number of loyal readers and that makes me happy.  I don’t have near the 30,000 monthly visitors I need to “be relevant” to publishers, and I need 30,000 friends to be recognizable to Google for them to make me more noticeable to random people.  If I didn’t love Joseph Heller’s novel Catch 22, I’d hate that term right now.  Joseph Heller probably would not get published today; he was a brash and opinionated man.  Most writers are.  Many writers are recluses and drunks.  J.D. Salinger would never join a social network site.  He’d never have a “platform” of potential buying audience.  Yet he sold millions upon millions of books without making a public appearance for the majority of his lifetime, because people worshiped the words he put in print. 

Ernest Hemingway with shotgun angry shirtless
Scribners Publishers (if today): Uh, Mr. Hemingway, we loved The Sun Also Rises, but we
 were thinking that you just don't have enough Facebook friends, and your
twitter following is lacking...what, no I don't want to befriend your shotgun... 
I don’t mind people.  I like to socialize at times.  I’m not a drunk.  And I like to (not joking) write.  But I don’t have enough friends and I can’t manipulate the internet enough to make it appear I have more friends.  Which creates an ironic conundrum.  Just like the Internet: where spiders (which frighten people away) crawl web pages searching for human-interest pieces.  Where Pandas (solitary animals which doesn’t even like breeding) are judging our social interactivity.  Where Penguins (awkward and flightless birds living in uninhabitable human climates) are using their clawed webbed feet to kick down and punish those disreputable web-mongers who would attempt to manipulate their site’s popularity.  

Awkward Penguin mem:  You write like Encino Man send you back to Stone Age  google penguin
In case you didn't know; this is the Socially Awkward
Penguin Meme.  This one is Google powered.  

Selling out is the new keeping it real neon sign I’m hoping that my blog is original, different, and connects to humans on a level that news sites, videos, and time-wasters fail to; and with a deeper level and extended brevity than Twitter, Facebook and other social network sites allow.  But maybe I’m just writing crap, and I’d appreciate it if somebody, or even Google itself, would tell me I deserve to be flushed down the drain with all the spam and Czech porn sites.  Comment below, or hit one of those “social buttons,” please—it means something to me personally, but it means even more so to Google, and hence, publishers.  Yes, that is me selling out just a little, but at least I didn’t try and buy your readership.   


  1. I'm pretty sure you'll some day be able to say, "I became an overnight sensation . . . after 20 years of mind-numbing work." If I'm no longer walking the Earth when that happens, give me a shout-out anyway.

  2. This one is my favorite so far. I like the plumb minions and may even consider buying some for you...

  3. Dan we'll get our shout outs, even if I have to forcibly give somebody "important" the Heimlich Maneuver just to hear it.

    Christi, if you stumble upon a deal on minions, I'd prefer to get those little yellow guys from "Despicable Me."