About the Author:

With a career that has spanned advertising, production, technical services, and project management, Michael is able to articulate the wide range skills and professions that make the Internet work. This eclectic understanding and his desire to shine the light on those hiding behind techno babble has brought success to a wide range of projects.

Twitter @bissell

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Past Postings:

Using Dissent To Enhance Your Social Influence Online

Industry Profile - Author

Industry Profiles Full Time Employees - Professional Writer

Some Thoughts On Freelancing

Building Your Online Brand

Marissa Mayer and the Change in Yahoo's Remote Workforce

LinkedIn for Professional Writers

Fake Republican Twitter Accounts

"Did you mean?" -- Google's chiding nanny of search results

Branded Technology

Sharingspree.com -- Stealing more than GroupOn's Idea

The Internet Isn't Entertaining Enough

It's not your bank... It's Apple's and Amazon's

Violated by Madison Avenue

Google+ Scares Me

"We need to..." Internet Marketing Myths

Facebook's deal with the Devil

My cool new phone is a little too cool.

You are never alone

Promotion vs. Distribution... You'd think they'd know that one...

Publishing Industry Watch

Content for Social Media

Social Media Slot Machine

Anonymous vs Me

News from the Twitter Follow Campaign Trail

The art of Indiscriminate Twitter Following

The Cloudy Meaning of The Cloud

The Demand For The Loss of Creativity

Alien Technology and Government Conspiracies

Time for a New Reality

The Death of Email

Protecting Free Speech... Anonymously (and geekily)

Amazon Shouldn't Have Shut Down WikiLeaks

The Superpowers of the Hive Mind

Time for New Ideas

Comcast, Netflix and the Mystery of the Modem

The Great Technical Disconnect

New for the Sake of New

A Retail Store Built Like the Web

Disposable Personas

When did Google Start Policing the Internet?

Getting back to HTML basics, thanks to Apple

Inspecting my Navel Base

A shoebox vs. an online backup

Is Your "Resume" Website Recruiter-friendly?

iBooks -- Creative Epicenter or Gatekeeper?

The Failure of Success

The Economy is Going to Get Worse, but that's okay

Time lost on Twitter

Client Vendor Relationships

Twitter's back alleys and dark places

Social Media is NOT Advertising

Microsoft Courier

Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)

PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb

China and Apple -- Different organizations, same management

The volume of screens


Google Adds Biking Directions to Maps


That magical little tablet

How your website can be in two places at once

Masterpieces created by sheer volume

Suing over lack of originality

A Primer on Internet Fame -- dancing babies, hamsters, numa numa, and more...

Checking my messages

Rules are made to be broken -- in a reasoned, systematic way

So many accounts, so few passwords

Who really uses Twitter? 60% of Twitter's traffic isn't on Twitter

The Web is a Jerry Rigged Kludge

Twitter: Asleep at the Mouse Wheel

Where regulation is good: Google Voice and Vonage

How Facebook is (unintentionally) forcing programmers to piss off users

The Twit Cleaner

Perfect Secretary's pitch for @Adbroad (and the Youtube API)

The Emotions of Text

The Shorty Awards Scandal -- Manual Spam is still Spam

Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail

Helen Klein Ross & Michael Bissell Interview at Adweek's Social Media Strategies Conference

The Internet is the New 60's

Cougars from New Zealand (and I don't mean big cats)

Adding facts together, or why you can't charge your cell phone from wifi

Social Media and the Destruction of the World

Rabid Fans vs Passive Viewers -- The Coco vs Leno saga

How to tell someone to retweet (without using up your 140 characters)

You can't buy social media

A book unopened is but a block of paper

Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes

Holiday SPAM (or the lack thereof)

Archiving Twitter

Too Many Toolbars

Random Censorship with Google Adwords

Accessibility and Shopping Online

Twisted path to customer service

Flash: Shiny objects blinding your audience

Twollow and other gold rush scripts

GPS in a Laptop computer

Thinking outside the box... There was a box?

Twitter was designed for Text Messaging

It's not the corporations, damnit

Entrepreneur or Dreamer?

Adweek Social Media Twitter for Brands Presentation

Socializing is more than Social Media

Generational Marketing is a Myth (or Who's your Daddy?)

Social Media is Just the Way We Use the Internet

Twitter Followers Don't Matter (ask the porn sites)

The Internet is Gooder than Books

Sometimes you don't want your campaign to go viral

Best Twitter Branding Campaign

Like flies to crap, Spammy Twitter Followers don't really go away

iPhone SMS Security Hole

How Flipmytweet works

Cell Phones as Microscopes

Digg is not the Hijacker -- You Are

Steve Ballmer -- the walking dead?

Twitter as an open mic poetry reading

Automatic Social [un]Awareness

New York, New York

First splash for United Against Malaria

New Media/Old Media and the CLIO Awards

Interview at SXSW: Mad Men Twitter And Tracking

We've got an App for that -- it's called the Web

Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed

Made it to SXSW in Austin

The trouble with Wordpress and other templates

Wayward Words with Baggage

Speaking at SXSW March 17th

The fleeting Memory of the Internet

It's okay to say 'I don't know'

Good Morning America, now Go Fight Traffic

More surreality in Portland

Nike Takes Over Conquent

Facebook owns this title

Excuses, excuses

A little on Social Media

Feeding on Content

Attack of the Bots

Irish Music in Oregon City

Landing on an Aircraft Carrier

Got Curry? And some bizarre art?

Web 1.0

Random Music and Random Life in Portland

To the dump, to the dump, to the dump dump dump

Flight Simulator

Cold night, hot fire, happy cat

Net Neutrality

Walking to work in the snow

A window into Moreland of the Past

Getting clever with data feeds

Big and Little Beirut

The Other Credit Crisis

The Broadband Inauguration

T-Mobile owns Magenta and Other Patent Stories

The Risk-takers, Doers and Makers of Things

The noise of 20,000+ Twitter Followers

Reflections on my DC Trip

Born Again American

30,000 feet, 500 MPH Suburban Strip Mall

Cellphones, toilets and the Inauguration

The wall of pissing

National Treasure/National Archives

My trip to DC so far

Everyone is insane

Getting ready for DC

The End of Days (of song): Microsoft Songsmith Example

The Very Model of a Modern Major General

Browser Bigotry

The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith

Creative Development or Developing Creatively?

Race to Witch Mountain

The Myth of Wikipedia (or the Wiki-1400)

Online/Offline Sales -- is it really that bad?

Is PayPal Tacky?

Old School Web Design Still Works

Domain Squatting

Christmas Fire

Green Chri$tma$

QA 101

Portland Snow

Get some return on that web traffic

I think they have a backup...

I'd love to have that problem

The [un]importance of statistics

Don't be a tool of viral marketing

CAT Scan!

Follow up to the shoulder injury

Emails, discussions, blogs, wiki and web content

Ironic Injury

On the Santa Monica Pier

You Designed for Print First

You let someone else register your domain name

You figured .biz, .info, .us would work fine

What's after the Integrated Circuit?

Intelligent life is out there (but it's bugger all down here on earth)

Subject Matter Experts Talking Other Subject Matter

The Totalitarian Regime of Apple

Oversimplifying how people work


Creative Services for the New World

Reverse Anthropomorphism

The End of Time

Oil prices and birdsong

Watching Starship Troopers AGAIN!

Better Living Through Twitter

Lessons Learned From Apple

It's the Brand, Baby

Business Architecture vs. Web Construction

On Truth

You can't build life

Accidentally Drunk in Portland

Al Gore the Winner

Intelligent life is out there (but its bugger all down here on earth)

Aussie Rules Football

Trip to Nostalgia Land

I am such an idiot

Long day of travel

Miami -- as far from Portland as you can go in the US

Inverse Peter Principle

Random Knowledge

I'm fascinated with modern plumbing

Leaving Seattle (or why you should keep your ticket close)

On the Rails

The Hive

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The Internet is Gooder than Books
2009-09-27 14:34:12

I've been taking some crap lately because I seem to have stopped reading books, and more directly that I'm not a reader of novels. This isn't to say that I don't read -- I actually read a lot, but I tend to read articles and and non-fiction.

I get a lot of my information from the web. This shouldn't be terribly surprising when you consider I spend most of my working hours online, although one might find it surprising I spend so many of my non-working hours online. But I think there is a misconception that a novel has implied value because someone wrote a whole book and got it printed.

The big flaw is in that fact that publishers aren't in it for the greater good, but the lowest common denominator. A great novel comes rarely, but a New York Times Best Seller comes along weekly. It is true that there is a level of filtering and editing that gives the publishing business a better product the way a good restaurant produces a better product than grandma's home cooking, but the emphasis is on the word product, not on good.

There is also the belief that if you can sit still and read an entire novel you have bettered your synapses in your brain -- simply by being forced to keep a story straight in your head and visualize the characters and settings, you exercise creative parts of your brain.

My first argument against synaptic calisthenics can be summed up in two words: Harlequin Romances. I would argue that a lot of the pap on the NYT Best Sellers list isn't much more complex than a good bodice ripper. Maybe written at an 8th grade level rather than a 5th but probably at a 5th rather than a 3rd.

My second argument is that I spend a great deal of time exercising my brain, and the Internet is a big part of that. Not just as part of my job translating complex business objectives into technical deliverables (which, as boring as it sounds, take a bit of mental agility), but I would argue that the era of what we're calling social media has a huge give and take.

Obviously most of what goes by in a twitter stream or on a Facebook page is garbage -- but that's true of all human creation. The weekly best sellers are filled with gems but there are thousands of books that didn't make the list because they are mind-numbing crap. Our blogs, Facebook updates and, ahem, "tweets" are all hit or miss because we haven't built really good filters yet like a Twitter reviewer for the Times.

But these unfiltered social media streams are forcing a whole generation to become more articulate using the written word, sometimes in long form emails and blogs, sometimes in the limitations of text messaging, or what I like to call the Sonnet of the Internet.

And about that written word thing, let me jump to the defense of video. Granted, reading versus watching leaves you with better understanding and retention, but we've confused the mechanism of that retention. The written words allows you to back up and re-read a sentence, or stop for a moment and look up a word.

I'll argue that most people don't actually look up words they don't understand, and most people I know who argue strongly for reading novels, seem to skim rather than really read the words in front of them -- it's just too much volume, and honestly, not important enough for them to really invest themselves into the literary nuances, but rather they're getting the gist of the story.

Which is to say that watching a news snippet posted by a friend on Facebook might actually give you more depth than reading the paper. You can pause, you can look up things you don't understand, and you have access to all that reference right there on your computer. No longer do you need a smoking jacket and a dark wood paneled library in your house to be the Professor who can find the answer.

With new media come the arguments that we are becoming more attention deficit; I argue we are becoming more discerning. If we aren't learning or getting what we want out of a medium, we move onto another until we find what we are looking for. When we find it, we hold hugely complex ideas and concepts in our heads.

Take TV in the 70s compared to today, for example. In the 70s the intellectual programs were things like Mary Tyler Moore or M*A*S*H -- quick, 30 minute sitcoms with a little message and no continuity. Now our trash is Battlestar Gallactica or Mad Men -- complex, far reaching story arcs with a message that is so ingrained in the story telling that you don't fell like there's a message at all, but it gives you pause for thought and interesting conversations (perhaps online) later.

The Internet is revolutionary, just as the printing press was. With revolution comes confusion and distrust -- but while we know this is the end of the an age, we can't know where this New Information Age is really taking us. But I can tell you, it's going to be far more different than novels versus movies versus video games.

It's going to change our synaptic connections beyond recognition, so hang on, it might get a little bumpy.

Jane Blue: Re: The Internet is Gooder than Books
2009-09-27 22:44:22

Wow! Books and Macs are anathema to you. I think we have completely different brains.

Michael Bissell: Re: The Internet is Gooder than Books
2009-09-28 20:08:07

I just think that most arguments I hear saying that one thing is better than another are often based in convention, not in reality -- and I think that the arguments I hear about books and macs are both snobbish and uninformed.

I like a good argument, I just hate a cut-rate one (to paraphrase Casablanca).

Oh, and I wouldn't call books or macs evil, just the blind faith in them, so yeah, anathema is probably the right word... It's the curse of blind faith that gets me riled up not the tools of the faith.

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