Our rural lockdown has given us a great deal of time to devote to re-thinking websites. What makes us angry when we see a page? Perhaps it is an overwhelming presence of advertisements and the resulting slowness in loading. Perhaps it is knowing that the 375 cookies set when you arrive will have the ability to trace every aspect of your existence, your dreams, your research into garter belts, and your consumption of vast amounts of vino during your lockdown.
We’ve arrived at the moment of truth, the moment when web sites can’t make even a dribble of money to allow us free time to bring you content on destinations we’ve actually visited, rather than the industry standard of “let’s do some ‘research’ and steal some pictures and make a crapload o’ dough.”
With Google announcing that the limitations we used to be able to set to minimize the ads on our sites was gone, because Google is bleeding cash like the rest of us and wanted to get one last benefit from loading a belly fat ad every two page inches, it was time to think of change.
With that I set out to develop Wandering Europe with a goal in mind. No advertiser that sets tracking cookies would be allowed. Books would be sold through an organization that benefits local bookstores and indy writers. It’s what they call a “white label” implementation. If you want to see a recommended book list, a straight html link is used to a travel bookstore I’ve configured. No tracking. Your purchase keeps local bookstores alive and I get a small cut for selling the guides. The Italian guide section of books is the most popular.
So I’m uploading new content drawn from recent travel and the travel I used to do for About.com. I’m concentrating on the smaller cities, archaeological sites, and rural places; there’s way too much stuff written about the big cities. I’m having fond remembrances of places like Peñafiel, Spain, with its narrow and blisteringly white castle, below which are wine cellars market by chimneys.
So this is what I call The Artisan Exchange, a promise that our relationship will be as friends who don’t blab to large corporations about each other’s long or shortcomings. Maybe you’ll buy a book, or book a hotel so I can eat at a restaurant I’ll review. I hope it works out. Perhaps we can meet in the fabulous gardens in Mainau Island in Lake Constance and reminisce over the lost journalism in the age of conspiracy and plague.
May all your cookies be chocolate chip, or whatever sugary treat floats your boat.