Attention: Steve Gillmor

Steve Gillmor continues to discuss the Earthlink advertising spot in his show (and name check me as well). Let me boil down my issue, since Steve continues to play a three card monte game with his audience’s concerns. We tell him that we are bored and that the spot sucks. He then shows us a card of “they support us and are mainstream, so isn’t that wonderful?” and goes to throwing the cards. He then characterizes the issue people have as that “the spot isn’t special to the podosphere.” My problem isn’t that it is mainstream advertising in the podosphere, my problem is that it is bad, useless, ineffectual advertising in any medium and any context.

In his recent Gillmor Dailies, Steve entreats us to listen to the spot. Now I’ve skipped it dozens of times because I feel it makes me temporarily dumber when I hear it, and I fear repeated exposure may make it permanent. Nonetheless I gave it a shot, and even typed up the text verbatim. Here is the transcript of that spot:

Do you believe anything is possible? We do. We’re Earthlink. We believe in an internet that is safe from viruses and scammers. We’re Earthlink. We believe your personal information should be just that — personal. And we believe your internet should be a friend not a foe. We’re Earthlink. Make the smart choice. Visit and discover what our internet experts can do for you. Earthlink – we revolve around you.

Now read that copy carefully. See a problem? How about this – we don’t know what the fucking product is! We’re told to go to their website and find out more information, and as far as I can tell the thing they have to offer is a care-free internet. Fantastic. For those who already have that or don’t buy into the vague fear-mongering, there ain’t much else to hang our hat on.

I’m not really in the market for dialup. Is that what they are selling? I don’t know. Now the question on the floor is “why should I care?” If they can’t be bothered to tell me that in their allotted time and sublet attention, no chance I’m going to pursue this.

Steve, I’ve been listening to you talk about the importance of attention for over a year now. To hear you ignore the clearest metadata you can get — being directly told that your audience hates something you play — I really wonder what the whole deal is about anymore. Why is some widget collecting my clicks going to mean anything more to you than what I communicate to you directly? If you ignore that, what is any of it good for?

I’m happy Earthlink supports you and the deal is good for you. Now, fill that 30 seconds with something worthy of the time of your audience and the storybook closes with “happily ever after.” The one kind of advertising I absolutely can’t stomach is that kind that when it’s done, I don’t know what I’m being sold. That’s exactly what this is. At least when the CGI polar bears cavort, they hold up a bottle of Coca-Cola so I know what I’m being asked to buy. We aren’t even getting that much. What a waste of good attention.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

11 thoughts on “Attention: Steve Gillmor”

  1. Wow, Dave, I give you credit for listening through the spot. I fast forward when I hear ‘now a word from Earthlink’. Usually I miss the spot and the first few seconds of the conversation. Yep, I’m cool with that.

  2. Ken Nelson says:

    I never could stand his show. The “Attention Data”, or wtf ever, is something that leaves me cold. Plus, the attentiontrust logo looks like something right out of Fort Riley KS. I see they’ve changed it to something more pastel since I last looked. How cute.

    Now the gasbags write and pontificate over something called “gestures”. Well, I’m making a gesture their way now. I wonder if they can guess what gesture it is. Hint: It’s a universally known gesture which can be interpreted as one of ranking.

    Illegitimi Non Carborundum


  3. Dave –

    No matter how many times you make the same gesture, I still think you’re the greatest. I certainly understand what you’re saying, so feel free to keep repeating it if you must. I’ll still be happy that, in addition to all the folks in the blogosphere and podosphere who enjoy, hate, or otherwise don’t care about the show, and in the process support it, so too does Earthlink, AOL, and Logitech who have supported it as well. I’d add Go Daddy to that list because they support you.

    Ken, thanks for your attention, and please continue to ignore the show and anything else I say if it suits you. It helps my affinity group profile enormously.

    Slusher rules.


  4. dave says:


    Is this a “killing with kindness” strategy? I dig you too, although obviously not everyone does. My first real big kick in the podosphere was getting name checked on the Gillmor Gang, and meeting you in Palo Alto was a high point. On this point however, I remain perplexed. It seems like you are happy with people hating the spot as long as they talk about it, in which case I now feel like I’m being played. So, my next gesture will be inattention – in the form of skipping the bullshit spot and not talking about it any more. I think you have the opportunity to in some way alter the dumbass way the advertising business runs as regards the podosphere, but you seem uninterested in that. I’m at least trying to keep it entertaining. When someone asked Dave Hamilton at PME if “he really had a clickwheel tattooed on his ass?” then I knew it was working.

    Ken, I did stop listening to “Attention Tech”, mainly because — although he is a good friend of our friends — I find Vizard hard to listen to. I’m still waiting for him to make some statement about his conversion on the road to Damascus. One day, podcasting was “CB Radio”, and the next he was starting a venture to do it. I also wasn’t that interested in the general slate of guests. I do still like the Gang and Gillmor Daily but I really wish the one podcasting company with lots of resources would put them into these shows.

    Garrick, that was a one time deal. The only way I’ll listen again is if I’m physically restrained from the skip button.

  5. 1. First we complain about you.
    2. Then we ignore you.
    3. They they attempt to play you.
    4. Then we *really* ignore you. I’m still not sure who wins though…

  6. Jason says:

    There’s lots of goofy advertising methods. Some that wouldn’t seem to work, actually do, and vice-versa.

    Some want you to associate them with feelings and ideas.

    Everyone has different tastes and is influenced by different things. The fact that I may not enjoy watching a tv ad where two people walk through a wheat field with the wind blowing through their hair and some voiceover who tells me nothing about what the product is as the pair smile at each other and laugh . . . well, that doesn’t necessarily mean the ad isn’t working.

    It’s their money to spend and make the commercials how they want.

    I don’t listen to Gillmor or anything on podshow. Nothing against anybody, just none of it interests me. But on this issue, I’d think the only thing they need to be concerned about is if the ad is actually driving listeners away. I doubt it is. I listened to it. I don’t get it either, but it’s not really for me to tell them how to spend their money.

  7. PJ Cabrera says:


    If Earthlink is spending money to put a dumbass ad on a show you like, rejoice! That show you like is “on the air” because of that dumbass ad.

    If Earthlink is spending money to put a dumbass ad on a show you don’t listen to, why the hell do you care to bitch about it? Talk about TWACing! Even I’m not that bad, and I’m king of the TWACs!

  8. mike dunn says:

    lol – “I’m still waiting for him to make some statement about his conversion on the road to Damascus.”

    now that was extremely well stated – as a fov i highly approve 😉

  9. dave says:

    PJ, that’s an oddly passive attitude. When it costs the same to do a dumbass ad or a useful one, why be so accepting of the bad one?

    Jason, “It’s not really for me to tell them how to spend their money?” Seriously? In the existing media world, the audience tells the content people how to spend their money all the time, to express political views and such. You don’t feel like we should have at least that much access with new media? We have the opportunity to change the way business is done for the better. You may be content to throw up your hands and swallow whatever gets shoved down your throat, but I’m trying to spit it back out when I don’t like it.

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