One dry potato inside

One dry potato inside

Mar 02, 2023

The rising flood of automated content could also create more opportunities for actual writing…

Maxi Jazz, poet and frontman of the band Faithless, died quietly last year. Occasional Instagram posts showed clear illness, but he never disclosed details. Two months later, there is still little public information beyond that fact that ‘he died peacefully in his sleep’.

Faithless captured the gritty come down of the mid 90s dance scene with the track Insomnia, which featured (among many others) two choice lines. ‘One dry potato inside’ summed up the state of many rave era fridges, while ‘can’t get no sleep’ became a generational mantra that toyed happily with the consequences of party life.

Can’t get no logic either

Googling ‘How did Maxi Jazz die?’ delivers a couple of fascinating articles on the first page of the search results., for example, offers up this extraordinary combination:

According to his recent health update before death, Jazz was doing well. However, he was still suffering from his old illness, Insomnia.

He had admitted to being in a challenging situation and unable to get adequate rest. 

Medico Topics noted that Maxi Jazz was suffering from a dangerous disease called Insomnia.

He was diagnosed with the illness some time ago. “I can’t get no rest,” he shared.

Medico Topics, one of the sources for the above, and also a first page search result, puts forward its own equally bizarre word combinations. Like this bit, located halfway down, under the sub header: ‘What Is the Illness of Rapper Maxi Jazz?’

Maxi Jazz is suffering from Insomnia, a dangerous disease. He was diagnosed with this illness quite some time ago. “I can’t get no rest,” he said.

The shady rapper even wrote a song/rap about his illness, which is exemplary of Insomnia. The song was released on November 27, 1995, implying that it has been a long time since the rapper announced his illness.

The piece is a long and incoherent cobbling together of different chunks of the artist’s life, including a lengthy side riff on Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), with a large three column table presentation of DVT signs and symptoms. Maxi Jazz had, apparently, had a DVT episode at some stage.

SEO dominance

These articles were probably ‘written’ by bots, or humans, or a combination of the two. They butcher all the facts and confuse lyrics and quotes, illness and poetry. But they also tick all the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) boxes. Repeat use of keywords, multiple backlinks and all rest ensure that even though they are essentially garbage they occupy the highly prized first page of search results.

The SEO paradigm sees many publications place primary focus on ensuring they produce SEO friendly content – effectively forcing writers to put their work through the SEO sausage machine, or to produce their content according to SEO requirements from scratch, the point of a piece being to achieve an optimum SEO structure rather than logical coherence. This is why so many Internet ‘articles’ feel a touch absurd, if not completely unhinged, and why the point of pieces produced by many mainstream publications can often be surprisingly hard to discern.

Already dominant across large swathes of the Internet, SEO content structuring is likely to take an even stronger grip as the authentic use of social media platforms tails off. If you have a feeling when you’re on the social scroll that you don’t see as much content from people you know as you used to, that’s because users are in fact posting a lot less. Instead, social media feeds are filling with promoted content, influencer stuff and, of course SEO click bait.

The content pendulum always swings

We tend to view digital content evolution as a left to right x axis, leading from a primitive pen and paper state through to a barely imaginable holographic future. This may or may not be true when viewed over decades, but if you zoom in there is also a pendulum dynamic at play. Put another way: every time humans leap forward in their ability to produce and distribute automated content, the value of the personal, the intimate and the hand crafted also increases a touch. If automated content is a disease we all have to live with, personally developed and distributed words can offer important relief.

In 2023, generative AI will super-charge SEO online writing. While the threat of the net being flooded with incoherent articles, posts and listicles is obvious, it’s also important to remember that the pendulum always swings back a bit, and that a little more audience desire for content that is short, emotive, evocative, and personal is also likely to emerge.

Writers should bear this in mind while grappling with the speed of techno change - and brands and businesses too. Even if there’s only one dry potato inside your content fridge, the public may still want to engage with it if you treat the story behind it well. The idea of growing a small but committed audience isn’t only a mechanism to build a Substack business – it’s also a central principle of effective 21st century communication.


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