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E23. Lou Reed's Nephew on De-Optimized Content
I could feel databases being overwritten, degrading, and falling apart.
“What are you working on?” I asked Lou Reed’s Nephew after inspecting his screen from across the aisle for a few moments.
He turned his head toward me and smashed the delete key triumphantly.
“I’m de-optimizing this content,” he said.
“You mean optimizing,” I said.
“I do not,” he said, again pounding the delete key, having highlighted what was obviously, even from twenty feet away, a professionally tuned meta-description, keywords glistening like conflict-free diamonds.
It hurt me the way he stabbed the key so forcefully, cutting the threads that held the online world together. I could feel databases being overwritten, degrading, and falling apart.
“Optimization is over,” he continued. “Too cloying. So needy. Up there in the top results? Always there with the answer. Who wants that?”
“People who are trying to find things out and get things done?”
“Exoticism and inaccessibility are making a comeback, even on the poor, literal-minded internet. The clicks aren’t much on page eight of Bing, but the stickiness? Dynamite. You can get predictable traffic with SEO—standard people-pleasing stuff—but give me a page with a broken href in the title and an <H1> full of Perl.”
“That’s interesting,” he continued. “That’s unexpected. Maybe no one will find it, but if they do it will be the stuff of counterculture and legend.”
“You know,” I interrupted, finally, “if you really wanted something unexpected, you wouldn’t delete those.”
Lou Reed’s Nephew hit the key in defiance.
“You’d mix them all up. You’d copy them and then paste them into different pages, making all the pages appear to be other than what they are.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said after a thoughtful pause. “That would be silly.”