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Free Speech & Market Speech

I have been mulling over one of my long-held beliefs a lot lately … and the big puzzle for me is: why do so few people get it?

I think the answer is a combination of several things — and that is a big part of why it seems to be complex, not simple, not straightforward, etc. Plus, there are also a bunch of sayings that are taken for granted … which seem to disprove my ideas without any rational thought and / or scientific analysis being involved. [1]

The opposition to my ideas is, I believe, on a very fundamental level little more than a “belief system” — perhaps on the level of: “anything which seems very simple cannot possibly be true”, or maybe: “everyone knows (see also my previous post, “Group Pride“) that the world is flat”.

I am today / now operating on a hunch — namely, that the words “free”, “market” and “speech” form a sort of triumvirate in which these words appear closely related, and through these relationships they kind of influence the interpretations people have of these words (which often appear in combination with one another). So for example, people quite often talk about things like “free speech” or “free market” … and then these two concepts also seem closely related to freedom. And then people will say that in a free country, people are generally free to express their (“free”) thoughts, ideas, etc. but then again no-one can force anyone to listen to them. [2]

In this vein, I have quite often wondered about how some companies actually purchase advertising space in order to freely express the company’s stance on some issues related to the business, perhaps business ethics or what have you. The part I wonder the most about is whether such companies are allowed to freely express such ideas, or whether the so-called “media channel” they wish to express themselves in (i.e. the medium’s management, editorial board or whatever) can veto their “right” to express themselves in this manner (my hunch is: yes … yet the medium’s “brand” may actually “take a hit” for not allowing such so-called “free expression”). [3]

A long time ago, I advised the management of a company that the word “shopping” (which is actually quite central to that company’s entire business model) is / was perhaps one of the “most valuable terms on the Internet”. This company acted upon my advice and the Harvard Business Review about the decision as an exemplary strong strategy. [4]

It is no secret that I believe domain names which are so-called “exact match” strings for single words are potentially very valuable marketplaces for the supply of and demand for corresponding kinds of information. [5]

Since these strings are so valuable as information and communication technology (i.e., as informative “media channels” devoid of branding implications), they are now quite commonly traded at “market prices” … which means that such strings are not “free”. Indeed: the expression “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” also applies to domain names (and in particular to domain names which are single words, especially if / when these words are potentially important marketplaces for exchanges in the supply of and demand for specific kinds of information).

Over the past couple decades, this has (quite gradually, in my humble opinion) become more and more clear to some “leaders” (mostly insightful “forward thinking” people who have listened to me and perhaps also managed to “grok” the ideas I have been expressing more or less freely).

One thing that still astonishes me, though, is how lethargic the general population seems to be in acquiring what I refer to as “literacy skills” — and by that I mean the very signicant difference in the quality of information that can be expected when visiting a domain name which is an exact match for a word (or “keyword”) in question versus entering that word as a “search term” after first visiting a brand name “search engine” (see also “This is a load of crap” [ ] ). 😉

The very slow march of progress when it comes to literacy may seem to be “behind the times”. We might be expected to have moved beyond such “backwards” technical conditions. Yet we ought to also recognize how profitable the business of manipulation (of mostly illiterate people) can be.

[1] Today, “science” is usually done using quantitative methods, and there is a quite obviuus dearth of “scientific method” for qualitative statistics.
[2] In the WordPress and “open source” communities, some people regularly explicitly distinguish between “free as in speech” versus “free as in beer”.
[3] This is also probably (and perhaps even acutely) the case for so-called “political advertising”.
[4] I will not disclose what they did, because I do not wish to make the king’s clothes completely transparent, so to speak. 😉
[5] There are, of course, many caveats to consider, and this is a sort of “consulting” I offer via 😉

By New Media Works

I'm just a regular person ;) If you want to know more, pls send me a msg -- thanks! :D

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