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First Annual Internet Industry Infinite Regression Awards
By Andrew Goodman, February 10, 2001

I've never really quite gotten a handle on what postmodernism is, being far too busy watching a "TV show about nothing" to keep up with my readings of Lacan and Foucault. One thing I've heard about "pomo" is that it's self-referential. And what allows for more shameless self-referentiality than the Internet?

The biggest fallout from the incestuous "online is all about being online" vortex we sunk into following 1998 was probably felt by ordinary stock market investors. Suddenly freed from their regular brokers, and educated by the fun-loving tutors at the Motley Fool ( http://www.fool.com -- shouldn't the name have been a clue?) they began trading stocks online. So what stocks did they buy? The ones that represented the online experience, of course! AOL [NYSE: AOL], Yahoo! [NASDAQ: YHOO] and yes, even the stocks of their beloved online stock brokerages, such as E*Trade [NASDAQ: EGRP]. The Internet created its own momentum by constantly referring to itself, creating an infinite regress of good vibes, at least while the party lasted. We should have known it would all turn out as predicted by this cynical web site, however. There is an upside to the current dust bowl atmosphere, for those who enjoy analysing and overanalysing each company bankruptcy. Downside.com, once a simple one-page prophecy with a plunging stock chart and the slogan "we're gonna party like it's 1929," is now a full-service portal of dot com doom.

How does an industry create an infinite regress of good vibes that doesn't go away? I mean, just look at the Emmys and the Oscars. TV is full of talk shows, entertainment news, and breathless biography about, well, itself... and the major networks and movie studios seem to be doing just fine thanks.

The Internet gang is trying to get the hang of this, but we're just not there yet. The first thing we must do - immediately - is to stamp out all dissenting viewpoints. Surely there are persons with authority over domain names or libel laws or just the simple laws of mathematical probability as it relates to incestuous industry commentary who have the authority to shut that nasty F***ed Company down.

Michael Tchong, publisher of internet marketing zine Iconocast, has got it right. Reportedly, at a recent Internet World conference in Toronto, he announced an initiative called IconoMap, a kind of fact-filled snappy comeback to the obloquys against the Internet advertising business. Don't go rushing for your dictionary. Obloquy means roughly "travesty," "abusively detractive language," or "a gross distortion and cheapening of a widely-held doctrine or faith." If the economic viability of online advertising models doesn't require faith, then we don't know what it needs! When Michael Eisner recently defended Disney's decision to close very unprofitable Go.com by saying that "the advertising community has all but abandoned the Internet," Eisner was telling something like an $8 billion lie to justify his own company's screwup. Tchong says the faithful need to stand up to the detractors, armed with stats and charts about the effectiveness of online advertising. Keep the faith, baby. If you don't, no one else will.

Now you're probably saying: "the Internet has plenty of awards - the First Annual Search Engine Awards, the Webbys, and... and... well, those two anyway." Exactly. But the point is: we need to have many, many more. Would Britney Spears' insidious rise to fame have been possible if she wasn't on your TV screen every other week, at a podium flanked by two formally-attired semi-stars, clutching a tall, shiny award?

Far be it from Traffick's small but loyal clutch of freelance journalists to abdicate its responsibility to remind the world of the Internet's vital importance In the Grand Scheme of Things. In the true spirit of postmodern logrolling, we present:

The First Annual Infinite Regression Awards!!!
brought to you by Traffick.com - The Portal Portal

 

Best search engine about search engines:
Search Engine Guide -
http://www.searchengineguide.com

Best marketer of marketing products:
Aesop Marketing Corporation -
http://www.aesop.com
Honorable mentions - too numerous to mention.

Best mailing lists about mailing lists:
Sparky's List Tips -
http://www.list-tips.com

Best content about content:
InternetContent.net -
http://www.internetcontent.net

Best portal portal:
Traffick -
http://www.traffick.com

Most underused offline utterance:
"Hyperlink this!"

Best news about news:
Yahoo! Full Coverage Topic: Media Watch -
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/fc/World/Media_Watch

Best weblog about weblogs:
They all seem pretty incestuous.

Best directory of directories:
Hardin Meta-Directory -
http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/md/

Best forum about forums:
We don't know. Please apply for next year's award.

New economy embodiment of a "people person":
Terence Pua, CEO, Project Napa -
http://www.projectnapa.com

Bonus offline award: Best TV show about a TV show:
After all these years, it's still Mary Tyler Moore.

Most diabolically-constructed feedback loop:
You're reading it, buddy.

We hope you enjoyed the First Annual Infinite Regression Awards, and will soon begin soliciting suggestions for next year's awards. Tread with caution. As this award is perfected, it may cause Google's algorithm to self-destruct, leading to a chain reaction that will permanently disable the Internet as we know it today, paving the way for AOL's rise to new heights of world domination, and a return to its roots as a proprietary, non-Internet dialup service.

And that's the story of how postmodernism took us back to the dark ages. The End.

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