Entropy Gradient Reversals
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Gladly The Cross-Eyed Bear

So some of you have been writing to say it's been quite a while since that last issue. Yeah, yeah, whatever.

Do you have any idea what it takes to write this stuff? To think up new concepts, opinions, compelling analytic perspectives on Internet trends, perhaps to extract a kernel of truth (where applicable) from the deluge of raw information flooding our bruised and bleeding electronically mediated sensoria? Of course, you don't! You just want to be entertained. What a pack of freaking lemmings. "Look! It's the ocean! Let's go!"

But we just got an idea. It happens occasionally. You see, we've been invited to speak next week at The Rocky Mountain Internet Expo. If you go to http://www.winningevents.com/inetsems.htm you'll see the listing for our talk:

Independent Internet Publishing - Let's have some fun!

      Christopher Locke - Vice President of Marketing - Displaytech, Inc.
      & Publisher of the Web Magazine "Entropy Gradient Reversals"

Just in case you thought we didn't rate enough to get onto the lucrative inner-sanctum speaking circuit! Just in case you thought someone who writes stuff like this couldn't also be A High Powered Corporate Executive! We didn't make up that bit about having fun, though, just for the record. We think it cheapens the quality of our planned presentation, and we put a very high premium on quality. But what the fuck.

Having not yet put Thought One down on paper for this gig, we decided, hey, what better way to demonstrate the principles of good solid Indie Internet Publishing than to incorporate this talk into an actual issue of EGR? And of course, the first of these principles is never to insult your audience's intelligence. You never want to let on that you suspect you're writing for a bunch of low-life hosers who don't have the brains to come in out of the rain.

But perhaps more important, you always want to let your readers know where you're taking them. A laser focus on theme is critical if you expect people to actually read and consider your ideas. Make it clear what you have to say right up front -- starting with the all-important title of your piece -- and get directly into the discussion. Then wrap it up and get out. Nobody wants to read long rambling screeds that wander all over the place and never get to the point.

Again, perhaps the best way to describe this is by example. The following is an issue we began sometime last week at 4am but didn't have time to finish. Also, we kind of lost interest...

Welcome to the 1000 Club

EGR has just reached 1000 subscribers and we won't pretend we aren't excited about it. This means that pretty soon we'll be able to start selling advertising here. Won't that be great? Think for a moment about what this will mean for you, our Valued Readers. In point of fact: absolutely nothing. But you're used to that by now, right? And remember: advertising is free.

We have this one little problem, though. It's hard to know just how to say this, but we have trouble believing that there are really 1000 people on the Internet smart enough to get what's going on here. This is a corollary to the old quandary about not being sure you'd want to belong to the kind of club that would accept you as a member. In our case, we're not sure about accepting you as a member of a club that belongs to us. A loose corollary, to be sure, but, well...

Let's try putting this another way. Did you listen in on the Webby Awards ceremony? It was broadcast on this RealBadAudio thing they've got now. You did? Good, then you know what we're talking about. And it's not just that we didn't win Jack Shit, either. We knew we wouldn't win anything after putting up that flame on the old home page just before the judges dropped around. We guess we showed them. But damn, not even honorable mention or anything...

See? This isn't working at all. We are digressing already -- and it's because this is such a sensitive and difficult matter that we need to bring up here and we admit it: we're waffling. So maybe we'll have to do another issue on the Webby Awards to share with you the high moments of that event -- like when this one chick who was like some kind of on-air hostess or something says she's going to have to go out and buy a computer tomorrow because this is like so wild!!! She had no fucking idea what was happening at all. Not that any of them did. The site that won in the Weird category, which -- in case you didn't go there and VOTE FOR US -- was also the category EGR was in, and so, in other words, the site that walked off with our dadblasted prize for christsake -- which was Gallery of the Absurd, by the way -- you still with us on this sentence? Yeah? well it goes on, and what's it's trying to say is that these Webby people actually had this Weird-Award-Winning site linked to PBS Online! No lie. For a whole goddam week. So like all these people are going like, wow man I wonder like who these dudes like are??? And they hit the link and they're at PBS and Mr. Rogers and like that. And they're probably so stoned they think it's like part of the show.

And in reality it is. It's all part of the show.

OK, OK. We guess the only way to do this, the only way to let you know what's bothering us over here at World Headquarters, is to just come right out and say it. So here it is. There is just one rule on EGR:

Really Dumb
People Allowed

You can be gay, different colors, foreign, paralyzed, Christian. We don't mind if you don't. That's how totally liberated and unbiased we are -- EGR even has a bunch of women subscribers! You can be Right, Left, Center, Upsidefuckingdown, doesn't matter to us one freaking bit. You can come from another planet for all we care. Hell, we do.

But the one thing you cannot be is really dumb.

Now we know what some of you are thinking. You're thinking this represents blatant discrimination against all those hundreds of millions of poor bastards out there with IQs in the low two-digits. No, you are mistaken. Those are morons. We have nothing against these people. Many are able to live happy, productive lives. Some even go on to leadership positions within major multinational corporations. IQ is not the issue. Many apparently intelligent people are, in point of fact, Really Dumb. Ditto most people holding upper-level degrees from accredited institutions of higher learning (after all, how dumb can you get?). No, Really Dumb is something altogether different from simply Not Very Bright.

Perhaps we should explain.

Take Australia for example. Australia must have a preponderance of really dumb people. You know how we know this? Because EGR has a whacking great horde of subscribers from this particular country (g'day mates!), though we have no earthly idea why. What this weirdass fact does tell us, however, is that the rest of Australia must comprise a vastly disproportionate number of -- you probably already guessed it -- really dumb people. EGR is like a haven, you see. Leaving aside the fact that we are Pure Push and allow no meaningful interactivity, EGR is the one place on the Internet where you needn't pretend that you don't really much mind hanging out with your fellow community-oriented Netizens -- who turn out to be a random-sample Mongolian clusterfuck of swinish beer-swilling idiots (no offense intended to our many Mongolian penpals.) Did you catch the Really Big Overall Winner on the Webby Awards? ESPNet SportsZone. Surprising, isn't it?

So look, we don't mean to be rude or unfair or elitist or anything, but we must insist: if you're really dumb, and you've nonetheless managed to start getting EGR on a regular basis, please do the rest of us a favor and unsubscribe now. Just to show there are no hard feelings about this, we'll even post your name and email address on our feedback page so other subscribers can write to thank you for making space for a reasonably intelligent human being.

You may be realizing at this point why attempting to articulate this policy poses such difficulties for us. And you may be breathing a sigh of relief -- well that's that, tough, but it had to be said -- and glad that it's over and done with. But hold the phone. The paradox that immediately arises, if you stop to think a minute, is that really dumb people are really dumb -- to the extent that they have no appreciable self-awareness of their pitiable condition. Who was it once said: "dumb as a sack of hammers"?
There was only one way we could see out of this conundrum, and it struck us like a veritable lightning bolt of inspiration. Let them evaluate themselves! The brilliant part of this, if we may say so ourselves, is that the vehicle for this self-assessment is one for which really dumb people seem to have a natural affinity: the multiple-choice Inner-You scorecard. This sort of thing even constitutes a regular feature in Cosmopolitan for god's sake.

Presented below, then, is EGR's very first Multiphasic Personality Disorder Inventory. If you add up your points, this will tell you whether you are in fact A Really Dumb Person and should therefore immediately unsubscribe from this publication. Scoring directions follow the questions (do not look ahead). You should have a sharp #2 pencil ready and take no more than three hours to complete the following ten items. We hope you make the cut. Good luck!

Begin now.

That's as far as we got. But as you can see, the writing is crisp and to the point. Readers needn't wonder if they are wasting their precious online time. Of course, why this time should be so precious is one of the few genuine paradoxes posed by the Internet, connections being cheaper than garden mulch these days -- and all they'd be doing otherwise is scratching themselves and watching sit-com re-runs on the tube. But it is widely thought to be the duty of A Good Website to fight upstream against the endemic Attention Deficit Disorder with which the medium itself is infecting the entire population of planet earth.

Since we didn't actually get around to creating the Personality Inventory thing (since that would, in turn, require figuring out how to do HTML forms), we'll wrap this up with our ten best insights on how to be a successful Independent Internet Publisher. May we have the envelope please...

1. Never Talk Down to Your Audience
Just because your readers may be a little dim, that's no excuse for reminding them of the fact at every opportunity. Instead, treat these ignorant shitheads like mature adults -- for all the good it's likely to do you.
2. Never Use "Big Words" Unnecessarily
Remember that most Internet users can barely spell their own names, and many are unable to read at all. This is why the web took off like a rocket when point-and-shoot graphical interfaces finally became available. Try to keep your writing no more complex than the average 30-second television spot. Provide plenty of pictures.
3. Never Use Gutter Language
Good writers never resort to terms like "shit," "piss," "fart," "butthead," or "dogdoo." Such words are so overused that they have become meaningless cliches imparting no impact to your writing. They may even be illegal. And besides, people raised in good homes won't know what the fuck you're talking about.
4. Never Make Fun of VIPs
CEOs are people too. It's not their fault they're often venal and stupid. Treat Captains of Industry with the respect they deserve, if only because they're filthy rich. Who knows, you could even end up working for one of these pathetic losers.
5. Remember: Corporations are our Friends!
If your goal is to attract advertisers -- and why else would a sane human being devote all the time it takes to create a halfway decent website? -- then you sure don't want to say anything that would make big companies afraid of you. A little bootlicking may even be in order. For instance, be sure to put those little Microsoft and Netscape logo buttons on your front page. While both their browsers may suck the big one, there's just no point in pissing on the Big Boys' shoes.
6. Don't Overload Your Homepage
We've all seen them: clueless websites that cram animated gifs, gratuitous sound files, and endless links onto a single page. People who design pages like this are often suffering from undiagnosed mental problems. Don't you be one of them!
7. Never Report Unsubscribe Requests
If your Indie web zine also serves an email subscriber base, don't make the mistake of telling the world about how many have asked to get off your list. This can discourage new participation in your undertaking, and seriously turn off potential advertisers. Remember: eyeballs are everything!
8. Never Write Endless Lists of Things to Never Do, Especially When You Are Unable to Come Up With As Many Items As You Claimed You Could In the First Place
Let's face it: lists are head-bangingly boring, and the only people who actually read them all the way to the end are hopeless simpletons. Such lists are tricks that burned-out hacks employ when they can no longer sustain a reasonable level of narrative cohesion by any other means. Coming across a site with lots of these cheap ploys is a sure sign that you've surfed too far. Hit your Back button and beat a hasty retreat to the SportsZone.
9. Always End on a Positive Note
Too many writers are fond of reminding us of the innumerable and intractable problems associated with overpopulation, race hatred, starvation, and plain old human suffering. Nobody wants to hear about crap like that! Keep your pages light and upbeat, offering advice where possible about new technology wrinkles likely to interest your geeky online audience. Anything about frames is good, as is endless discussion of server statistics. Also, avoid touching on the political implications of wealthy First-World users and the cultural imperialism they are happy-go-luckily spreading worldwide.
10. Have A Nice Day!
Above all else, show readers that your staff is a hip and nimble-witted lot. Just a bunch of good natured kids having a great time -- and generating some pretty goshdarn impressive revenues in the process.

We hope these principles will prove valuable in your own efforts to trick people into clicking on your web banners and coming back again and again to buy your sorry line of worthless drek. With that end in mind, EGR wishes each and every one of you Fabulous Success in your Exciting Online Ventures!

Coming At You From the Real America

Land of the Free
Home of the Brave

Entropy Gradient Reversals
All Noise - All the Time


Nothing to disclaim at this time.


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                                     Entropy Gradient Reversals
                                     CopyLeft Christopher Locke


"reality leaves a lot to the imagination..." John Lennon

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