A conversation, in the wider modern context, is something that wends its way across months of time and hundreds of thousands of minds via blogs, emails, other websites, letters, the spoken word, radio, TV, magazines and newspapers, to name but a few of the possible paths. Branching and joining threads of thought and ideas hop and jump from media to media - but the most recent, internet-era additions to the possible paths of conversation are what really makes it all froth and bubble. Important activities and advocacy coalesce from this conversation as a matter of course; meritous and popular ideas are far more likely to gain the support they deserve when the cost of communication is so low. The MPrize for anti-aging research and the all-volunteer Methuselah Foundation are excellent examples of firm and directed organizations that came from the foam of the internet; spontaneous self-organization in action.
Unfortunately, some topics just can't be discussed well in email, blog and website; they are drowned out by the efforts of those trying to make money. So it is with scientific anti-aging research and the vast sea of static produced by the purveyors of useless, all brand and no cattle "anti-aging" products. Just take a look at what is seen when searching for any sane, non-monetary, responsible discussion of anti-aging science on Google, Google News, Google Blog Search and Technorati - a blizzard of junk and nonsense. It's the same everywhere you look, a storm of short-termist profit seeking that destroys the primary utility of the internet for these concepts, making it impossible for diverse groups to collaborate, exchange ideas and build new organizations as a part of a serious, ongoing cultural conversation on anti-aging science.
So we all lose out - including the short-termists. How's it feel to be contributing to your own demise, you out there with the HGH ads, cherry-picked studies and spam sites?
I briefly set down a few thoughts on the future of branding and discussion last month. Anti-aging is beyond salvage as a term for discussion; we should move on and use other language to describe the technologies of healthy life extension and advanced medicine to extend healthy life spans.