I’ve not posted for a while. I got a really nice tweet from @DavidRobertHogg this week saying he wanted to read more from me. (Thank you).
The reason (apart from being busy) is frankly I’m depressed about the way things are going online. It feels like I might rant about how 'real people matter' and 'quality content counts', but the macro data suggests that actually the billions of schmucks who use the net couldn’t give a toss. For them the price-quality ratio has become totally decoupled. They expect to get stuff for free or at nominal cost and don’t think for a moment about what that means about what they are getting. It’s depressing.
The most recent example is one I came across mourning the fact that my Seville guidebook will probably never be published in print again. (Thanks Google). I was looking at Amazon and came across a Kindle-only competitor. It costs £1.02 compared with my guidebook which costs £6.74. (Admittedly my guidebook isn’t available as a Kindle book so it’s not a completely fair comparison). Guide to Seville by EUprintpresspublishing is a piece of crap – probably copied and pasted from Wikipedia and I think put through a piece of translation software. A couple of sentences from the first paragraph:
“Seville (Seville Seville in English or in Spanish) is the artistic, cultural and financial capital of Andalusia and Seville province. It is situated in a plane passing through the Guadalquivir river – sailing from Seville to the site of injection in the bay of Cadiz in the Atlantic ocean.”
What a piece of unmitigated shite.
I tweeted about it and got some amused tweets of horror back from other travel writers like @Mike_Gerrard, @mary_novakovich and @itsjamesstewart as they looked at other examples from the series and came up with:
“house-boats in Amsterdam are 'complete homes with electricity, water, gas and sewage'”
“inside the Cuba guide it refers to that well-known cook 'Chef Guevara'
Should Amazon (and others who are tech companies but pretend they are publishers like Google and Apple) engage in at least some quality control and not let people publish crap like this?
Mike suggested that ‘people would decide if these books are any good’. The Seville guide does have two 1* reviews which are pretty explicit about how bad the guides are. Like this one:
“A few pages of badly translated, half baked information. I was shocked to find that such an item was available.”
But Mike also discovered that EVERY guide has a glowing 5-star review by someone called Deni who didn't buy the book.
This then is ‘content’ online these days. The idiots who use the internet are so dumb, they buy it. And the people who publish it engage in fraudulent activity to promote it.
Is there anything we can do? Will the market ensure crap like this sinks to the bottom of the pile or will we all drown in piles of it and find it increasingly hard to discover the good stuff?