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    nmw 12:00:36 on 2016/07/04 Permalink
    Tags: app. apps, , brand name, , , , , , Marshall McLuhan, , , , , , , , , ,   

    The Domain Name is the Medium 

    If you are “old school“, you might type in thenewyorktimes.com to visit “The New York Times”. It wouldn’t matter much, because that domain name also belongs to the company that publishes “The New York Times” — and so does newyorktimes.com, nyt.com, and many others, too. All of these strings are probably “protected” by trademarks the company “owns” (see also what I said about ownership in my previous post). If you have acquired a little more literacy skills than utter newbies, then you might know that the domain name the company actually uses (to publish their “newspaper articles”) is nytimes.com (note that the company uses different domain names to publish corporate / company information). Companies often register many trademarks and domain names — The New York Times Company apparently has also registered “mytimes.com” (these are often referred to as “typos”, but one might wonder whether a newspaper publisher in Myanmar might think The New York Times Company might be infringing on their trademark). There are many legal battles about such strings every day, and there is still very much and widespread confusion regarding the topic.

    Generally people have a deep gut feeling that companies should not “own” the natural language people speak “naturally“, but tell that to the “owners” of soap.com — which they acquired for somewhat more than a song (and by the way, the same owners have also acquired song — “dot song“). ICANN’s “new generic top level domain” (ngtld) rollout has been very controversial, and there will probably continue to be very much and widespread confusion regarding domain names for many years to come.

    Few people are aware of the ownership relationships in the media they use on a daily basis. My guess is that significantly less than 1% are aware that when they visit nytimes.com “Alphabet” — the company that used to be known as “Google” — is informed which computer has connected to which article, and that information is probably used to inform Google’s algorithms about which ads to show. In that sense, Google sort of “owns” the New York Times, even though this ownership relationship is nowhere transparent on any document or piece of paper.

    Most Fortune 500 corporations have huge portfolios of domain names. Google is itself very much in the domain name business. When people say that domain names don’t work, they apparently overlook the simple fact that the Internet’s most successful companies realize that they do work. Extremely well. So well that they will bet the farm on them. They understand that the domain name is the medium.

    Try to imagine an Internet where that were not the case. Oh, wait — actually that appears to be quite easy: Just look at your so-called “smartphone”. I bet they called it smart not because smart people use it, but rather because smart companies make them to spy on dummies! 😉

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    nmw 14:26:43 on 2016/05/15 Permalink
    Tags: agenda, agenda setting, agendas, , , brand name, , , , , , , , , , , , rationalities, , , , , , ,   

    Rational Media, Alternative Media + Mainstream Agendas 

    One point about rational media that deserves particular attention is that they do not require only one standard type of rationality. I will save this point for a future date.

    Today, I would like to entertain another issue: Alternatives.

    This particular point is not about alternative rationalities, but rather the more general freedom of choice from a variety of alternatives. Whether or not a person is rational of type A (e.g. rationalising their point of view with A1, A2, A3, etc.) or rational type B (instead rationalising according to B1, B2, B3, etc.). they may both appreciate the freedom to choose from a diverse palette of products, services, etc. For example, people generally appreciate the freedom to chose among brands – for example they may have a favorite brand of beer, a favorite bicycle brand or a particular style of shoes from a particular brand name shoe designer.

    Likewise, pupils in schools may very well be encouraged to analyse arguments from different points of view. In free and democratic societies, people are encouraged to vote for candidates from a wide range of choices across the political spectrum.

    What about when we turn to search for information? Do we choose among a plethora of search engines? In the past week, how many different search engines do you remember using?

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    nmw 21:01:07 on 2015/02/18 Permalink
    Tags: , brand name, , , , optimization, , , , , , ,   

    Language is a Communications Technology, not some SEO Tactic 

    When I first wrote about the Wisdom of the Language almost a decade ago, I realized that many people would probably think the idea was odd, and perhaps even revolutionary. I think perhaps I was also too much involved with rather “technical” details — and therefore many people didn’t seem to “get it” right off the bat. It’s really a very simple idea: A site named “X” is about “X”.

    I named the concept the Wisdom of the Language in order to contrast it with the Wisdom of the Crowds, a book that was very popular at the time (and which is sort of the basis for algorithmic search methods like those employed by Google). As I wrote back then, crowds are a sign of significance (and perhaps also something like credibility), but they are not a measure of relevance.

    Although this technology is quite simple and straightforward, language is also a very complex phenomenon. People who are not well-versed in how language works may not see the forest for the trees — and therefore they may easily get lost. This is especially the case for people who do not have much experience in comparing and evaluating a plethora of media and information sources. Many people have rather limited media literacy skills, and really do need the guidance of a trained information specialist (which had for over a century been the role of professional librarians).

    Starting about a decade ago, people began to think they no longer needed trained professionals to help and guide them. Now they felt ready, willing and able to discover facts by themselves — or rather with the help of an algorithm that would spit out objective “results”. Some people still to this day think the results this program returns are objective facts. They naively believe Google much like earlier generations blindly followed a Pope or presented their questions to some oracle or other magical power. They still do not realize that the primary purpose of Google is for the company to maximize its profits.

    Now as most people use Google to type in the name of the website they want to visit (for example: Amazon), there is a common and also a reasonable misconception that the name of a site can be used as a way to “optimize” it for search engines (such that when someone types in “hotels” or “weather”, the top results in a search engine might very well be a site like hotels.com or weather.com).

    While that may be true, that is actually not the main reason why the Wisdom of the Language works better than the Wisdom of the Crowds. Using the Wisdom of the Language, a brand-name website like Google will actually ultimately become superfluous. As people become aware of the fact that weather.com has reliable information about weather, and that hotels.com has reliable information about hotels, they will no longer need to search for “weather” or “hotels” at the Google website. Instead, they can skip that detour and go directly to the information source.

    Most people still do not have the media literacy skills to be able to reliably evaluate the quality of information different websites provide — but it is getting better, slowly but surely (and many Wisdom of the Language websites are helping to pave the way).

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