So he just writes books about how to have bigger boobs and stuff like that’ says my friend ‘ then he sells millions online, and just hangs out in coffee shops with his laptop’

We are talking about our consciences and how they affect how we make money. (a discussion yet to be aired by bankers, News International staff and Met Police officers in the UK, etc)

When I first started spending lots of time online, I was shocked at how many wannabe psychologists – qualified or otherwise – were giving advice. About 80% of the content I looked at contained psychology.

But then I don’t own my subject and neither does anyone else…and though I have made money through creating content in books, tv and radio this gives me no claim to do it online…

Warning: now this is going to be very difficult to write about without sounding earnest or morally superior.

But am I alone in finding many of the get-rich-quick, I’ve-never-done-it-but-can-tell-you-how-to-it gurus online, incredibly tedious? Not to say lacking in humanity…

And I am alone in asking: where are these people’s consciences?

My view of selling is that it is inextricably linked to our desire to create for appreciation and exchange with others. We don’t just make content or artefacts for ourselves – our markets and business communities revolve around the social aspects of trade – and it is why many of us prefer street markets to the non-social efficiency of giant Asdas and Tescos.

We develop conscience by about the age of 3 – which is why discipline ideas like the naughty stair, clearly demarcating ‘good’ and ‘ bad’, can work well. Psychopaths are people who fail to develop this moral division and cannot self-regulate as a result.

Online and active, there are lots of challenges to conscience…

  • How often should you broadcast on social networks?
  • When does it become intrusive?
  • Are you being overly dominant?
  • How much should you plug yourself and how much others?
  • If you sell, how do you offer people genuine value for money?

And of course our conscience works in tandem with our values: the top priorities and principles which affect our decision-making.

Which is why I am very attracted to the idea of digital humanism. There is in interesting essay on this here containing the line ‘Ask now what the computer can do for you, but what you can do for the computer’. It is a central theme in the marvellous‘You Are Not A Gadget’ which I am always on about.

Many of us are online but not yet expressing our digital humanity: what concerns and interests us, content which advances learning and progress and which we can curate, aggregate and link. The expressions of other aims, alongside money-making are hugely under-represented.

I think it is this lack of digital humanism which depresses some of us about the web and here’s one solution: more good content creation.

Please – where you are thinking about it – go to it, people.

By szcz

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