You Are Not A Brand: How to keep the Internet from becoming a dystopia

If you only read one manifesto this week, you owe it to yourself to read Maureen Johnson's amazing rantifesto about people who try to turn themselves into Brands on the Internet. It's the funniest, most cheer-worthy thing I've read lately.

Johnson's explanation of why authors shouldn't try to turn themselves into brands is amazing. ("A brand says I will churn out the same thing over and over. Which I won't, because I am weird.") But also, she has something important to say about the Internet:

The more the internet expands, the more people-okay, authors, who are a KIND of people-are being encouraged* to go online and PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE! To aid in this endeavor, these poor writers are being shipped off to conferences where they roll out people like me under the guise of being experts on something. And in general, the quality of advice is pretty craptastic. "Get a Facebook page!" "Get lots of people to LIKE you!" "SHOUT THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK AT PEOPLE UNTIL THEY START CRYING AND BUY IT." Or, more annoyingly, we experts use the genuine language of community ("Make authentic friends!" "Network!") to do the same thing, just with a softer sell. But it's still all about selling.

And then she gets to the part where she explains how to keep this kind of thinking from turning the entire Internet into a sterile, soulless dystopia:

The internet is made of people. People matter. This includes you. Stop trying to sell everything about yourself to everyone. Don't just hammer away and repeat and talk at people-talk TO people. It's organic. Make stuff for the internet that matters to you, even if it seems stupid. Do it because it's good and feels important. Put up more cat pictures. Make more songs. Show your doodles. Give things away and take things that are free.

You really need to go read the whole thing. It's utterly amazing. And perversely, I now want to buy every book Maureen Johnson ever writes. [Maureen Johnson, via Gwenda Bond]