Eyeballs Versus Integrity

Being an advocate (through this blog and the Longevity Meme) means that I am on a never ending quest for eyeballs. In other words, I am constantly thinking about how to increase the number of visitors who come to read my thoughts and opinions, or who can benefit from the reference materials I provide. By influencing the marketplace of ideas, I am, in my own little way, helping to advance the cause of real anti-aging science. Additionally, I provide a gateway for people who are unfamiliar with healthy life extension: a way for them to easily learn more and contribute without being confused, overwhelmed or threatened by an avalanche of information.

I came into the life extension community via the avalanche method - it took me years to figure things out; even to understand which sources I could trust! That was a large part of my incentive in founding the Longevity Meme in the first place. Every newcomer who has a better introduction to healthy life extension is one less person who has to spend years on getting all the basics straight - and one more person who can fight to support the future of medicine! Once again, the more people I can speak to through my websites, the better for all of us in the community.

Read on:

(I examine the essential role of activism in this Longevity Meme article and this hot topic page).

Beyond this, there is the matter of fundraising. The more people I can reach via my websites, the greater the level of donations I can solicit for worthy causes like the Methuselah Foundation. The small (but active) transhumanist, extropian, cryonics and calorie restriction communities have given generously to bring the Methuselah Mouse prize fund to its present total, but more donors are always needed!

Getting new, interested visitors to the Longevity Meme and Fight Aging! is a tricky art. It's a three pointed war between necessity, finances and integrity. I want to bring in new people - as doing so is vital to the success of my goals in activism, fundraising and education - but there are lines to be drawn between what is relevant self-promotion, shameless self-promotion and beyond the pale efforts that are annoying and counterproductive. Advertising has to be relevant, effective, but low cost. Reminders to various interested communities have to be infrequent, useful and unobtrusive. I don't send unsolicited e-mail, and maintain careful, strict privacy policies for subscribers to the Longevity Meme newsletter.

Most importantly of all, I have to keep my integrity in all of my efforts to bring new people to healthy life extension. This is why I, unlike many other people, do not place automated Google text ads on my websites. The temptation is there, as the money could be channeled back into my own advertising efforts. However, I know that my visitors would be bombarded with advertisements for fraudulent "anti-aging" products despite any best efforts at blocking that I could make. I am unwilling to step away from personally standing behind everything that appears on the Longevity Meme - which is a good thing in my eyes.

My integrity is probably the biggest barrier to successfully growing website traffic. Networking is key to this endeavor: making contacts, exchanging links and advertising, all all the normal lubrication for online businesses. The same goes on more informally in the blog world, of course. So far as the Longevity Meme goes, however, I do not want to link to resources without an accompanying commentary. I don't want to appear to be endorsing any particular service or seller, especially given my views on the supplement industry and the wider "anti-aging" marketplace. The Longevity Meme is intended to be a neutral, impartial reference, a sane non-commercial starting point for newcomers - and I think it works well on that level. It does make the basic exchanges at the heart of online networking somewhat more difficult, however.

(Let me take an aside to thank all of the people who linked to, recommended or advertised the Longevity Meme over the years despite my picky, picky selectiveness in returning those favors. You are all very much appreciated).

This blog, Fight Aging!, was started as a way to do many of the things I cannot do with the Longevity Meme. Here, I can strike out and link to any old thing that I like, be more informal, invite guests and other authors to post their own opinions on healthy life extension, and make more interesting networking decisions. It should be a blast! It's certainly been fun so far. I hope that people who come to read Fight Aging! feel inclined to explore further and visit the Longevity Meme to see what all the fuss is about.

Comments

I appreciate the wisdom of keeping the appearance and fact of your integrity. It's one of the key elements that will contribute to the success of this effort.

Whenever I read a magazine that has advertising, I immediately question it's objectivity - and am usually justified in doing so. I agree that in the short run it may slow the "meme" down. But at least the idea(s) won't become distorted beyond all recognition by commercially fueled speed.

Cheers and Thanks for this effort

Posted by: David Gobel at February 23rd, 2004 1:43 PM

Kind words always appreciated Dave :)

Dave Gobel, for those who don't know, is one of the powerhouses behind the Methuselah Foundation and the Methuselah Mouse prize for anti-aging research:

http://www.methuselahfoundation.org
http://www.methuselahmouse.org

You should take a look, and certaintly consider donating to the cause.

Posted by: Reason at February 23rd, 2004 4:54 PM

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