Fables for the internet generation

One day many years ago, I was wandering around alt.forest.urban when I saw a mysterious thread. I followed the thread down a long, winding, very dark path, the recollection of which sends shudders through me. Just when I felt most lost and desperate, I posted, “What kind of morally depraved place is this?” A kindly veteran user saw this and, taking pity on such a n00b as I, replied, “Do not worry. The internet is a vast place, filled with all manner of man and beast, but remember: it, too, has its own morality.” He then shared with me many a fable, demonstrating the internet’s nature with the wisdom and patience of the most learned of users. His handle was aSEOp, and what follows are a few of his tales:

The Quack Frog

A FROG once upon a time came forth from his home in the marsh and proclaimed to all the beasts that he was a learned site designer, skilled in the use of scripting, markup languages and Flash and able to create beautiful pages for any type of client.  A Fox asked him, “How can you pretend to design for others, when on your site you have animated .gifs?’

Physician, heal thyself!

Frog with website

The Hare and the Tortoise

A HARE one day ridiculed the slow pace at which the Tortoise’s band’s MySpace fanbase was growing. The Tortoise replied, laughing:  ”Though you have courted controversy to gain fame swiftly as the wind, I wager I will beat you in long-term career sustainability.“  The Hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the terms and the timeframe.  On the day appointed the two started building popularity together.  The Tortoise never for a moment stopped practicing and writing songs, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to a single-record contract but a lucrative career as a jingle writer.  The Hare had one of those tapes stolen and released following token legal resistence, got into fistfights with paparazzi and got a multi-record deal, though none of the records sold well, nor were any singles downloaded.  At last, he bounced from one celebrity reality show to another, while Tortoise earned massive royalties for writing the shows’ theme tunes.

Slow and steady wins the race.

The Vixen and the Lioness

A VIXEN who was checking how her investment in link farming was paying off in her Google rankings, came across a Lioness’s website which ranked higher, though it only had a few links to it. ”Why such airs, haughty dame, over so few links?“ sneered the Vixen in an email to the Lioness. ”Look at my numerous links here, and imagine, if you are able, how a proud website author should feel.“ The Lioness gave her a squelching reply, saying calmly, ”Yes, just look at that beautiful collection. What are they? Spam! I’ve only a few, but remember, those few are from pages that pass a lot of juice.“

Quality is better than quantity.

Vixen and Lioness

The Peasant and the Apple Tree

A PEASANT had in his garden website which made no money but only served as a social networking site for the sparrows and grasshoppers.  He resolved to shut it down, and made a bold announcement to that effect.  The grasshoppers and sparrows entreated him not to remove the site that gave them so much pleasure, but to spare it, and they would in turn big him up in various other online communitites and lighten his labours. He paid no attention to their request, but set a deadline for the site’s termination.  When he looked at the site carefully, however, he found a massive user database.  Having looked at the in-depth information contained therein, he threw out his plans, and looking on the site as sacred, took great care to exploit the database for marketing purposes.

Self-interest alone moves some.

The Hart in the Ox-Stall

A HART desperately wanting free internet access discovered an unsecured wireless network signal coming from a stable, and buried itself in the connection, leaving nothing to be seen but the bandwidth he was using.  Soon after the neighbours  asked why the internet connection was so slow.  The stable boys, who had been resting after their dinner, looked round the computer files, but could see nothing and went away.  Shortly afterwards the master came in, and looking round, saw that something unusual had taken place.  He pointed to the bandwidth being used: ”Who’s using the connection?“  And when the stable boys came to look they discovered the Hart, and soon made an end of him.  He thus learnt that...

Nothing escapes the master’s eye.

Internet hart

Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0cm; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} —>

The Peasant and the Apple Tree

Self-interest alone moves some.

http://aesopfables.com/cgi/aesop1.cgi?3&ThePeasantandtheAppleTree

A PEASANT had in his garden website which made no money but
only served as a social networking site for the sparrows and grasshoppers.  He
resolved to shut it down, and made a
bold announcement to that effect.  The grasshoppers and sparrows
entreated him not to remove the site that gave them so much pleasure, but
to spare it, and they would in turn big him up in various other online communitites and lighten his labours. He paid no attention to their request, but set a deadline for the site’s termination.  When he looked at the site carefully, however, he found a massive user database.  Having looked at the
in-depth information contained therein, he threw out his plans, and looking on the site as
sacred, took great care to exploit the database for marketing purposes.

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6 Comments

  1. Great post - I love these. Maybe you should write an SEO children's book, start the distilled recruitment process young! :-)

    reply >
  2. Child labour is still illegal Tom... Wicked post though, a most enlightening collection of tales that I'm sure old Aesop himself would be proud of. If he could get his head around the internet that is.

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  3. Love it! Very clever writing and inspired drawings :)

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  4. Interesting, amusing, and a little bit confusing. Great article, and love the cartoons, missed a vocation there I think. Bookmarked the site for further reading.

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  5. Do you realize you're using a picture of a male lion instead of a lioness?

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  6. Love it! I especially enjoyed:

    "they would in turn big him up in various other online communities"

    I assume "big him up" is a British thing? I'm going to have to start using it :)

    Not to link-pimp, but I actually wrote a usability fairy tale a while back. I'm always a fan of new approaches to familiar ideas:

    http://www.usereffect.com/topic/usability-fairy-tale

    reply >

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