Thursday, May 3, 2012

The panda and the streak

I am an introvert. That's what Meyers and Briggs tell me, anyhow, and I'm inclined to agree with them. That doesn't mean I don't like to go out in public, spend time with my friends, or put on large Broadway-style productions the parking lot of Home Depot on a Saturday. It just means that left in front of my computer or in my house, I sometimes forget that those things are important. (My wife Diana, who is an extrovert, can also forget. But, as we learned while living out in the country in Ecuador, her subconscious gives off subtle little hints that she needs to mingle, such as putting the barrel of a loaded gun in my mouth and speaking in a slow Clint Eastwood voice, "Take me back to PEOPLE!")

But what my being an introvert means to you, dear reader, is that I also forget that this is not a diary, but a blog. But a blog, sometimes, is just a diary running around a football field naked at halftime. It's a bit weird from me, but I have to remember that it's not just all about me. Someone else is looking (at least they were before I went streaking).

I was reminded to remember you, dear reader, as we recently made a decision to pull many of my older posts off of Wu Wei We Go, and there is a "readership" that might notice and care. Now I hardly think this matters for anyone who has been following the blog, as you've either read older posts or you haven't and aren't likely to go back now. But I am old. I am an old introvert. And old means that I have neither kept up with the hyper-connectivity the Internet provides, nor have I developed an interest in it. I come from the generation that would complain to the FCC that we got a sales call at home during Sunday dinner. Now we have beeps, whistles, rings, dings, dongs, pops, and tweets demanding our attention at about the same frequency we inhale and exhale. I have not adapted.

So here's the deal with pulling the posts, as related to me by twenty-somethings who now tell me what to do. See, there's this thing called Panda. Cute, right? But I have panda nightmares. Just like computer operating system versions have names (XP, Vista, Leopard, Lion) so do versions of Google's search algorithms. Now I don't know what an algorithm is, but it's got a cute, fuzzy woozy, widdle name, so I don't feel unjustified in feeling a certain degree of violence against it, like I did with that big, purple dinosaur.

We have been putting together a new website called Radical Family Sabbatical. We're trying to inspire more families to do what we did, and to help them do it. And some of the stuff I've written on Wu Wei We Go would be good content for the site. But. But? But Panda says, "NO!"

Turns out that if people can't find you, you won't do them any good. And being found starts to look like a virtual version of the trading floor of the stock market. So you have to learn how to say just the right things in just the right way to please the panda. It is the reason you'll often see things on websites that make you feel like you've been transported back in time to the days before pronouns were invented.

"…When looking for the perfect couple's retreat, it's often helpful to think about what you want out of your couple's retreat. A couple's retreat is not like a work trip, nor is a couple's retreat like a family vacation. So remember to treat your couple's retreat like the unique experience a couple's retreat should be…"

Sorry, I forgot what we were talking about. Oh, yeah, couple's retrea…Agghhh!

We've already been "structuring" content so that it is not only interesting but ideally searchable. So I've developed a sensitivity to Google's robot panda. But here's what Panda thinks about using posts from this blog on Radical Family Sabbatical: copycats. So, it's gonna be name calling, then, is it?

Duplicate content gets you sent down the Google search results page, which is akin to moving your advertisement from a highway billboard to the inside of your underpants. So, at least in our case, the precise stuff people want to find is harder to find because it's in more than one place. Is this interesting to anyone? NO! of course it's not! So this old, introvert man is trying to create a helpful, interesting, fun, funny, and compelling site and having to do that with some robot panda telling him that "interesting" is not searchable. I am a Luddite. I am an old, introvert Luddite.

When trying to coax an old, introvert luddite out of his cave, best not to greet him with a big, scary, robot panda. But, the twenty-somethings have got me to settle down, roll onto my back, and are scratching my belly, saying, "Just do what we tell you, and everything's gonna be aaaall right…aaaallll right."

So, not that you'd have noticed that we're pulling old posts, but occasionally an introvert's gotta run naked onto the field just to see if anyone notices he's there. Wheeeeeeeee!!!!


  1. Hey Matt, I can't find your old pants. Are you removing them as well?

  2. Pants? Where we're going, we won't need pants!