From the latest installment of Drew Austin's Kneeling Bus newsletter, Speak No Evil, about the enshittification of platforms1:

Amazon search results are increasingly clogged with sponsored items and SEO word salad, a trash pile through which users must sift to find what they actually want. Google search results have followed a similar trajectory.

SEO (and similar efforts to actively game a platform’s algorithm) are interesting because computers are the explicit audience; the fact that users must see it too is merely an unpleasant side effect, a result of the strategy’s necessary embedding within content.

Somehow I never saw it that way. Makes a lot of sense though!

And AI (think ChatGPT) as a promise to fix this mess by having another computer sort through it and extract a cleaner result. (The result is the from same SEO-optimized, sponsored content though—it's only less obvious.)

(The entire Kneeling Bus archive is worth a read)


  1. coined by Cory Doctorow