Money-Making Websites and the Cause of Longevity Science

Moderately skilled and experienced operators can make money by creating and maintaining a website on a particular topic. The degree to which money can be made by doing this is, at the highest level, a function of the level of interest in that topic - complicated by how much money flows in associated industries, but in general it is a measure of public interest and engagement.

Out there in the very fluid ecosystem comprised of small-scale entrepreneurs, online advertising networks, and the browsing population, you'll find an ever-changing and adapting group of websites associated with almost any topic that you find interesting. You have the basement level of automated spam blogs and tiny content sites, bottom feeders produced with minimal effort to generate a tiny amount of revenue each - but there are millions of them. Above that there are the institutional versions of those automated spam systems: companies that churn out terrible, banal content according to metrics that measure present interest in particular topics. Above that, the mix of old and young online journalism that does much the same thing, only more slowly and with a more idiosyncratic flavor.

Then you have the entrepreneurs who build and sell websites over the course of years in much the same way that some people buy, renovate, and sell houses. There is a well-established formula: you work on good (or rather good enough) content, pull in an audience, demonstrate worth, and then sell to another player in that marketplace. None of this implies that the entrepreneur has any interest whatsoever in the topic covered by the website - it helps if they do, but it isn't necessary.

This ecosystem, coupled with the vast sums of money that flow through the "anti-aging" marketplace, explains why 99% of the material out there on the topic of human longevity is junk, nonsense, machine-generated, or only present in the hopes that you'll click on a high-value ad. It is worthless garbage, produced by people who have no interest whatsoever in actually attaining the goal of longer lives through medical science. Over the past few years it seems the search engines have largely given up, their indexes clogged with useless pages created by ignorant outsiders for gain that push down the relevance of useful pages created by knowledgeable insiders.

This state of affairs is been a plague upon our houses, a blanket of lies and misdirection that has long made it extremely hard for newcomers to find any sane starting point in learning about longevity science. Discussion of fundraising and serious research can't get a word in edgeways around the jabbering of supplement-pushers and machine-generated sales pitches for the "anti-aging" products of magical thinking.

I mention all of this as I've noticed a slight shift in the strategy of the site-building entrepreneurs over the past year or so. I should mention that it is often the case that it is hard to tell the difference between one of their sites and a spam system, and their modus operandi in matters of aging and longevity has typically been to follow on the coattails of the "anti-aging" marketplace to push whatever expensive, unproven, and ultimately useless supplement is all the rage. Even sites run by people who are genuinely interested in radical life extension have largely made money through supplements - as that, so far as I can see, is the only game in town.

This becomes at some point a self-fulfilling prophecy: the vast majority of the ecosystem spews forth discussion of supplements and "anti-aging" nonsense - and so this is what the community hears, expects, and looks for. The for-profit websites are just as much a tool for education and advocacy as this site is, and sad to say they are generally far more effective at propagating the message they eventually settle on.

But of late, I've been seeing more site-building that incorporates the messages of rejuvenation biotechnology and modern, serious longevity science. Pulling in quotes from well known aging researchers, for example, talking about the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, and cutting back on the supplement-pushing. I'm not sure where the various entrepreneurs are going with this, but it seems to be a sign that the right sort of message is further spreading thanks to the efforts of advocates in the healthy life extension community. It is, after all, hard to talk up a $20 pitch while selling a $1 technology that looks pretty weak beside the ongoing work that the scientist next door is busy explaining.

Here are a couple of sites I've noticed of late - see if you can decipher the longer-term motivations of the builders. In each case, these are small-scale commercial ventures at various stages of their inception and progress; and I provide no assurances that any of the content you'll find is true, straightforward, or anything other than a hook aimed at your wallet.

Ageless Zoom

For most of my adult life I've had the sense that I was to participate in bringing in the future. But I never clearly knew what that meant. Now we are able, if we choose, to live longer than any life-span humans have ever imagined. That's not mere possibility, it's real and at hand. I think of it as a second lifetime. And for me it's a very real opportunity to move from chance to choice.

Extreme Longevity

Extreme Longevity is an Internet publication dedicated to finding and presenting the latest developments in human longevity research. ... Each day thousands of scientists and researchers around the world are working to gain a greater understanding of what processes make living things age and seek to determine methods to slow down, stop, or even reverse this process. ... At Extreme Longevity you can expect the latest research to be presented regularly in concise easy-to-understand articles which emphasisze how best to put these learnings in to practice.

Immortal Humans

The latest news and developments about humankind's drive towards biological immortality.

That last one is a good example of a site that can be hard to tell apart from a spam blog - but the entrepreneur responsible for it emerged to comment back a ways when I first noted its existence.

There are others I could point out, but a representative set of three is more than enough. Take them for what they are, and ponder what their existence indicates in terms of the present strength and propagation of the message on scientific longevity.


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