Sunday 29 December 2013

Dracunculus blogospherensis

If, from the title, you're expecting grim stuff from the tropics about malaria, loa-loa the eye-worm, or Dracunculus medinensis the Guinea worm, then I'm sorry to disappoint you. One of the wonderful things about studying biology is finding out the weird and wonderful ways in which organisms make a living.  Vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) licking at bleeding mammalian hocks; koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) subsisting entirely on Eucalyptus leaves (blehhh!); while in lichens a fungus gives house room and protection to a photosynthetic alga which pays rent in sugars. In many ways the internet is a rather simple ecosystem with primary producers like me lashing out mostly original material, albeit material that has been seeded or fed by other entities on the plains of the blogosphere.  We are insignificant serfs barely visible except to a very limited (Dublin, Bath, Boston, Kiev, Smolensk and Cape Town for me) readership.  Much more successful are the consolidators (I lurk on 3quarksdaily, metafilter, neatorama), who read the original copy, discard the mundane filler, and re-post the Good Stuff from several-to-many sources. They can make a living out of this because they can deliver thousands of readers to advertisers.  There are also hybrids who write original stuff but also read and re-post.  And of course HarryPotter rules apply: some blogs have been around a little longer or are a little bit more interesting/readable and they get a million times more page views. The blogosphere is probably a moribund medium - hot sexy people are using different modes of communication.

If the blogosphere is dead or dying, the carcass is crawling with bloody blogoparasites who batten on to this creative stew and make a living by selling advertising placement with very limited expenditure of effort but huge cost to the groaning infrastructure of the internet - very much like spam. Spam is now so effectively filtered out of our mail-boxes by Gmail and Yahoo that we don't realise (or care) that 70% of all e-mail traffic is comprised of this nonsense. 

I allow, indeed encourage, people to add comments to my posts on The Blob.  So I was delighted a few months ago when someone wrote a flattering comment and invited me to visit his page.  That page was trying to sell Venetian blinds and I was at a loss to explain what we might have in common.  I get so little traffic (haven't gone viral yet . . . must . . . go . . . viral) that I read all the comments people write.  Then a few weeks ago one piece of my deathless prose about Milk O'Magnesia, written many months ago, started to attract a certain amount of interest.  I thought at first it was because somebody had tweeted the post or put a link on their Friendface climbing-frame.  Then I found numerous comments on the post by Anonymous:
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post:
And it generates a higher harvest of the foods involved. In fact, everyone will discover this activity enjoyable and rewarding. The sky really is the limit using the type of fish you can grow (provided you'll find no bans on doing so). Also visit my web-site: aquaponics
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post:
Inspiring story there. What happened after? Take care!
Take a look at my website; corel free download ( 

WTF? What does it mean?  It's clear that English their first language is not. And the second comment is so generic that it will make someone somewhere click through to or the Venetian blind place I mentioned earlier.  Why are these parasitic cretins invading The Blob? They must have a robot which sniffs out blogs which allow anonymous comments and they must be selling their services to the people who have a product to advertise or sell.

Other posts on The Blob have now gotten similarly infected and I have had to a) disallow anonymous posts there and b) change the URL of the post.  That's a bore, it means that Google is going to have to find me afresh and my ambitions to be the Bieber of the Blogosphere are (for the moment) thwarted.

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