Happy Birthday to Digital Me – and can spambots be called Doris?

Last week I got a reminder from my domain name provider, and was surprised to realise that andrewcferguson.com is a year old. This got me thinking – maybe not as much as another big birthday non-digital me had last year, but still. What was my digital life all about? Had I got past the toddling stage yet, or was I still on the website equivalent of rusks?

Another event which more or less coincided with my first birthday – whether or not coincidentally – was an email, forwarded by my email provider, from an outfit called Media Discovery. They had clients who wanted to advertise on my site, they said. They would pay me money, they said.

At first I ignored it, thinking it was some randomly generated nonsense from some sort of spambot thingie (I’m hazy on all that sort of stuff, but generally picture a spambot as an insectoid lifeform made of diamonds like one of the bad guys in a Hannu Rajaniemi novel). Then I noticed the signature at the bottom. It was from a lady called Doris Fuller.

Now, that may seem like a small thing to you, but it somehow comforted me that I wasn’t dealing with a spambot. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with the name Doris Fuller. It’s a very nice name. I have a mental picture of Doris, and it’s a comforting, non-threatening sort of a one. In my mind’s eye she doesn’t look insectoid, or indeed at all scary. Put it this way. Can you picture Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of his Terminator roles saying, ‘I’m looking for Doris Fuller?’ Thought not.

So I wrote back to Doris, setting out my concerns about putting my vulnerable, barely-walking-yet website in the hands of a slavering corporate machine. And she replied right away, explaining patiently that they would either supply a custom made piece of content for a new page on my site, or I could write my own stuff for it, as long as the client’s name was embedded in a link on it. She even supplied an example of one, a car review site, which looked very nice. Very hot red Chevy.

Which probably makes me an idiot for turning Doris’s offer down, and if any of you guys get the same offer, I won’t think any less of you for taking it up. In a way it’s heartening that wee sites like mine are of interest to the niche advertiser. Perhaps you could see it as a democratisation of the advertising industry. It’s just … I don’t know, not exactly the Clash going on Top of the Pops (for those of you old enough to get either of those cultural references) but, in some way, a ceding of a little part of my digital self to someone else?

Anyway, happy birthday to digital me. Some day I’ll work out the best way to sell myself between this site, Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest. My top number of hits, during last year’s Fringe, was 65. But so far what I have done is have lots of fun. I have written what I liked, and when I liked, and that’s not always something even a part-time writer like me can say. I hope some of that fun has rubbed off on the rest of you.

If you have any comments on what you think so far, feel free to let me know. Meantime, I intend to materialise in the flesh tomorrow night at Literary Death Match, so I hope to see some of you, non-virtually, there. And share a non-virtual glass of rioja.


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