DRAWING LINES IN SHIFTING SANDS
(Update below in postscript)
Yesterday, I noticed a trackback on my post regarding "Truer Computers on a Stick" from this site called Gadgetism. Being a gadget nut, I checked it out and lo and behold, there was a post on my post, with full attribution and links back to my site, but nothing else.
But this site was very different. It was obviously and technically a totally "feed" generated, automated blog site on gadgets. It almost gleefully and openly admits "Feeding all about gadgets, toys, electronics and technology" in it sub-title.
It was very different from the site I complained about a few weeks ago that had plagiarized this post from my site without any attribution (see my posts on that here and here on the subject). VC Fred Wilson had also had the same thing happen to him by the same site, since closed down.
Gadgetism above, seemed to algorithmically find posts on the web that talk about tech and gadgets, legitimately link to them, give those posts TOTAL, LEGITIMATE, AND COMPLETE ATTRIBUTION with links back to the original posts.
The site also seems to be optimally set up for monetizing through Google Adsense. It's almost the perfect gentleman, automated "Automated Blog" site.
Very different than the blog spam site above that plagiarized content without attribution and links back to the original. Or is it still Blog spam?
"Here's what spam bloggers do. They program computers to create hundreds or thousands of blogs, many of them on Google's free service, Blogger. Then they engineer them to rise to the top of search engines, principally Google. And they're designed to attract Adsense ads, provided by Google. It's an entire Google universe. Our hope is that the Google gang can come up with magical algorithms to corral this monster running loose in their kingdom."
Kind of like Gadgetism above.
The big question: is this new, kinder, gentler, "no harm-no foul" kind of blog spam at all?
Is it any different than a blogger finding a post manually that he/she likes on the web, and then posting it on his/her own site with attribution and links back (also monetized by Google Adsense?).
And by having more blogs out there linking to each other, automated and/or human increases the chances of readers discovering the content that bloggers work so hard to create, right?
And no one seems to get hurt here, or do they?
In a way, it's almost the age-old plot-line conflict in science fiction stories about robots being good or evil vs. humans.
Here are the original three laws of robotics (from wikipedia):
- A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Here are First Draft version of the three laws of Automated, Robotic Blogs:
- An Automated Blog may not harm a human blog, or, through action or inaction, allow a human blog to come to harm.
- An Automated must obey the rules of human blogs, including attribution links, trackbacks and tags to the post of origin, except where such linkage would conflict with the First Law.
- An Automated Blog must protect its own existence and economic well-being, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
There...now is this automated blog objectionable or blog spam? Or should be they drummed out of existence as certain forces attempted to do to robots in the "I Robot" universe?
Dilemmas of a new age...
P.S. If you've never read I Robot, I would most heartily recommend picking up a paperback, even if science fiction is not your regular cup of tea.
If you saw the movie version and liked it, still pick up the book, because the movie was a total travesty of the original story.
If you didn't see the movie version, don't bother...you didn't miss much, in my humble opinion.