I really like the idea of presenting readers with all the revisions of a passage, which Andrew talks about in the first video.
“People can smell inauthenticity a mile away”
Native advertising. Interesting that Andrew Sullivan is diametrically opposed to it, yet many internet personalities as we saw on Generation Like seem to be okay with it. Even though they weren’t journalists (they were also typically younger), it seems to have effectively permeated much of blogging (although, I don’t have any first hand experience on this). Unless disclaimers are obvious and forthright (explicitly stating whether they’ve been paid by the company selling the product they’re reviewing), I think it’s unethical because consumers are not able to factor out the bias.
I don’t really understand Maria’s argument defending her associate links, because if she writes about a book fondly, there is a higher incentive for click-throughs. Additionally, she sort of is exploiting the absence of knowledge most people have about the Amazon affiliate program (I know a bit because I use it on one of my sites). When someone clicks an Amazon affiliate link, for the next 24 hours, the affiliate receives between 4.00% and 8.5% of any product purchased on Amazon, not just the product they clicked. So, as long as she gets them interested enough to click the link, she’ll be making a profit. The problem with that is her profit is tied to what she writes and her overall review, because click-throughs are more likely if it’s a positive review.
Regarding Sullivan being crushed because he was spending 7 hours a day investing emotional energy into thousands of people, I think this all has to do with the fact that after a certain point of 1-2 thousand readers, users, etc, it all becomes statistics to the content producer. That means the value of an individual user goes down to very small, and how much connection you feel with your audience goes down (in most cases, I’d say). I think it would have been beneficial for him to, every 2 years, go on the road and meet 20-30 avid readers of his blog and spent an hour talking to them. Putting a face on it is crucial.