I just caught the end of a "town hall" sort of program on telly, on which the topic of discussion was illegal downloading of music in Australia. The main focus of the discussion was whether Australian ISPs ought be involved in the prevention and discouragement of illegally downloading, and if them doing so would count as punitive enforcement or not. Much like in America, the music industry here wants ISPs to sort of "play nanny," giving up information about their customers and enforce a sort of "three strikes" program after which a customer will be permanently disconnected.
The thing that I found most interesting is that, currently, the ISPs seem to be holding back the attacks of the music industry in ways that simply didn't happen in the US. They are currently saying "no way," that it isn't their job to be policing the Internet or held liable for what is done via it anymore than the post should be for materials sent through it. In The US, this sort of step was pretty much skipped over via legislation; it was simply made law that content owners can force ISPs to do their bidding for them, and thusly they've all had to do so. I have no doubt that it will eventually be the same here in Australia, but I'm really encouraged by the rational arguments against doing so that have been made so vocally.
The thing that discourages me, however, is that the debate seems to have been sold to many Australian musicians as if the Internet is some sort of music dispersal medium like radio or television. They seem to think that, like as with the radio, the ISPs are selling customers the ability listen to music, and thus ought pay royalties for the ability to do so. It's discouraging to me because it does make a sick sort of sense; they ARE after all charging their customers, and they ARE (sort of) providing them a mechanism through which to listen to music. If providing Internet access is eventually designated as the same sort of service as radio and television, all sorts of scary doors will eventually be opened, so I'm hoping that this line of thinking is put out to pasture.
The one thing that all parties involved in the debate keep bringing up, however, actually strikes me as the sort of system I'd like to see. Everyone -- save for the music industry, natch -- is advocating a low-cost flat fee for music usage, kind of like the television license fees to which people outside America are already accustomed. The figure that keeps being brought up is $10AU a month, after which you are free to listen to as much music as you'd like, however you'd like to do so. Enforcement of this plan would obviously be problematic; it's not as if the illegal file-sharing networks are going to put in place some sort of authentication system to ensure that only licensed individuals can access them. People will clearly still be able to access music without paying the fee. Why then, would anyone bother to pay the fee?
What I would like to see, however, is for some enterprising ISPs to bundle this "all-access" music license into the cost of their service. If the fee is $10 a month, they could subsidize it down to something like $5 or $6 extra a month -- or even cheaper as an introductory perk. This could also be bundled with higher data caps (oh yes, if you're not currently operating under a data cap, you soon will be) to create another sort of revenue stream for the ISPs. After all, if they're now going to be legally downloading tons of music, they're going to need to buy extra monthly bandwidth as well.
According to the program I saw, studies done in Australia show that just $10AU a month would be enough to fully remunerate all entitled parties with compensation. I suspect this figure would need to be re-factored for use in the US, but I suspect most people would be willing to pay at least double or triple that for unfettered access. Some people already pay this much on top of their Internet access fees to facilitate the ILLICIT transfer of music and video, and NONE of that money gets to any entitled individuals. Surely a workable scheme can be devised.
You create things because you want people to see them. Rather than expending energy trying to prevent some people from using the things you create in some way you don't like, just look at it as it really is: people are seeing your work. Whether they're hotlinking your images, stealing your post content, or sharing clips from your tv show on YouTube, eyes are seeing your work. Isn't that the entire point?
Encourage people to use your work. Creative Commons licensing anything you create is the best and most-effective way to get large amounts of people to see it. If you're a photographer, consider licensing your images such that bloggers, painters, filmmakers, artists, etc can use them without having to jump through hoops.
Don't sweat the numbers. Many of the blogs I read have lately been almost completely devoted to talking about how great their Technorati score or their Google PageRank or whatever is. Why does this matter to you, and why do you think it would matter to anyone reading your post? Sure, it's good having a high-profile site, but if all anyone can ever find on it is stuff about how high-profile it is, nobody wins.
Ads (almost always) make you focus your content on getting more readers and/or selling more ads. If you want to create things and get people to see them, then great... that's what blogging is for. Sure, you might be able to make alittle cash by adding advertising, but I submit that pretty much every blog I've subscribed to that has added advertising has turned into a blog about how to get more readers to read, how to get more backlinks, how to get higher in search rankings, etc. In short: making money with your blog (almost always) turns your blog into a blog about making money with blogs about making money with blogs... I was interested in what you had to say before, but you're losing me with all this making money stuff.
Every so often, tell people about it when you like what they're doing. A few years back I got an email from someone I really looked up to telling me really nice things, and it really meant the world to me. When you get an email or a comment or something from someone who has been inspiring you, it can really make a difference in someone's life. That sounds really sappy and silly, but when the person in question spends a bunch of time on a blog or something, it's obviously important to them. I'd consider that part of their life.
Don't participate in memes. You just end up with posts like this one.
Success is a hard thing to measure; many people who blog seem to be under the impression that having high rankings and making more money is the important metric for how successful they are at what they're doing. Me? I don't have a lot of readers, I've never done anything with the intention of increasing any rankings, I post almost entirely stupid things -- yet I get feedback from people all over the world, have forged quite a number of internet friendships as a result, and am consistently blown away at the number of people out there that I'm reaching (I don't even really know how many it is, but I do know it's a heck of a lot more than I ever expected it would be).
So yeah, I'd call that successful. Those 6 "secrets" are the most important ones to getting me to where I am, so I hope this is what Matthew was looking for.
Let's set the wayback machine for 1996, during which The Internet goes through its awkward adolescent age.
During the early years of the internet, 99.9% of all websites were hosted by universities and authored by the students of said universities. Domain names were handed out for free, but practically no one actually owned one. All urls looked like this: 'www.nameofdepartment.university.edu/~student/subject/page.html', and www.mcdonalds.com wouldn't exist for several years yet (let alone be owned by McDonalds, but that's another story.)
As nearly all the content was authored by university students, the subject making up the internet varied wildly. You could find information on Star Trek, Babylon 5, and pretty much any sci-fi* mythology. There were many pages about Bruce Campbell, Xena, The Simpsons and many other popular icons. Aside from the occasional page outlining technical UNIX/Linux/BeOS/etc information, you were pretty much stuck with Xena.
Around 1996 Altavista, the then internet search king, introduced a special 'image search' allowing users to search not only for page content, but actual images. I decided to use this opportunity to ascertain for myself just how useful this whole internet thing really was. I specially crafted a search query which I believed would push the limits of the idea that 'you can find everything nowadays on the internet,' an idea that was fairly popular with first time net searchers who find that the popular things they are trying to search for are in fact popular.
The query I designed to test the limits of Altavista's image search was a simple one. The two words I paired quite effectively showed that you certainly could not 'find everything.' That search query was "Wilford Brimley." There were 0 results.