Little Boxes

My younger daughter often says, “67.3% of all statistics are made up!” If you don’t “get” that, then you probably needn’t bother reading the rest of this ramble. I’ve noticed a lot of statistics bantered about lately that have to do with what works, and what doesn’t, in the fields of Internet marketing and online presence. I never see supportive research quoted. Just the final stats. Use this because 67.3%… It’s been shown that 67.3%… We recommend this because 67.3%… Pick a number. it really won’t matter what it is, the message, and the purpose, is the same.
 
I’m known on the Internet as someone who has a little experience with the technology that supports online presence, and I guess that’s true. I work with the stuff every day. I’ve done so since the late 1980s, which was before the Internet was public and before the World Wide Web was even invented. I think I might have even bumped into Al Gore back then!
 
There seems to be a new movement afoot as a few of the long-time established gurus and a couple of quickly successful new ones have jumped on the “let’s make everyone an expert” band wagon. Now, that can either be a marketing ploy to grab a new audience (and market!) or it can be sincere commitment to an idea. I personally think there’s a bit of both in the mix, but that is a story for another post.
 
Within this relatively new movement is an obvious push to support a number of products that are either produced by insiders or have enough affiliate commission to make them of significant interest. The products offer some ease of use, over-coming some of the traditional steep learning curve of online technology, but they also introduce new, and perhaps as difficult, learning curves in their own right. Most don’t need any programming knowledge so that is a plus.
 
The selection of products being heavily promoted by the largest portion of the gurus are not the only choice, are not even necessarily the best choice, and are often counter to the open source concept that is sweeping the ‘net, putting an ever higher price tag on access. This is, of course, just one more way for the elite to sheer the flock of its fleece.
 
But along with this push for everyone to use the same handful of products in support of their online presence comes a similarity of look, a ubiquitous spread of all but identical style, a… well, it reminds me of the lyrics to Malvina Reynolds’ cute song (copyright 1962 Schroder Music Company, renewed 1990 – first verse presented here under the fair use doctrine) Little Boxes which was also the title song to the Jenji Kohan TV comedy series, Weeds.
 
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.
 
Where is the creativity? Where is the art? Where is the brand? How can you, the individual expert, stand out from the crowd in a field of experts that is growing as fast as the gurus can sell their next training program? What are you doing to be decidedly different, unique? Or are you slaved to the gurus and their percentages? Will you all look just the same?
 

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Written by Steve

Rev. Stephen B. Henry, PhD. is an author, web developer, small business consultant, and mentor. Steve provides technical and online presence support to small business owners, e-commerce providers, and entrepreneurs, including those who work from home. He can be reached by email at therev@ourhutch.com.

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