I like that it’s a grass roots project to create a new and less centralized advertising economy. (Or maybe it’s decentralized. I’m not sure which, because the site doesn’t yet say what happens behind the curtain. Is it like BitTorrent in its architecture? If so, does it use the BitTorrent protocol in some way? And what’s actually centralized? Who sells the advertising? How is relevance determined? How is pricing determined?)
I also like anything that can start breaking what amounts to a near-monopoly on advertising by Google. At U.S. v. Microsoft, 10 Years Later, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s top legal honcho, became impassioned at just one moment during the 1.5 day event: when he was asked about an advertising deal between Google and Yahoo. This would combine the #1 and #2 online advertising companies, leaving Microsoft a distant #3. Disregarding the irony of crying “waah” because Microsoft is losing at a game it failed to buy (or innovate) its way into, Brad still has a case.
What I don’t like is the corrupting influence of the advertising economy itself.
Right now online advertising is a river of gold flowing out of the ground in California, and millions of bloggers — along with countless new and traditional businesses — are rushing to grab some. In addition to the other economy-distorting consequences of this rush, it is corrupting blogging’s original nature, which is amateur in the best sense or the word. Amateur is derived from amatorem, the Latin word for lover.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with making money by blogging. I am saying there’s something wrong with blogging mostly to make money, or to let advertising determine the purpose of your blog and what you say with it. If your business is the latter, you’re flogging, not blogging.
There is an old and subtle distinction here. Businesses and professions at their best are ways to pursue passions and organize talents — not just to make money. Of course they can’t thrive unless they make money. But few of us go into business just saying “I can’t wait to return value to my shareholders.” Investors are the main exceptions, but the best of those know that human passions other than greed are at the heart of every good business.
Meanwhile, check out JuiceTorrent. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes, since right now it’s single mention on the Web comes from Emil Sotirov of People Networks, which created the service. (I discovered Emil and his work through a comment here.) If this be a snowball, we can mark where it started.
[Later… Emil answers many questions above in the comments below.]