Yellow Pages Environmental Forum

Now it get’s personal

Posted in Editor Picks by Ken C on May 13, 2008
Tags: , , ,

You’ve seen them — bloggers who by virtue of the fact that they have a keyboard, an Internet connection, and half a brain can start spewing all kinds of inaccuracies across hyperspace. Among those I have seen:

  • Yellow Pages kills trees — Not true — see article on how paper is made (click here)
  • No one uses them — Not true, unless you consider nearly 14 BILLION look-ups last year to be “no one:
  • the Industry makes up the usage numbers — Not true unless you believe that all the research organizations that do research for a range of media have some compelling reason to ONLY bake the number for Yellow Pages
  • I don’t want one, I don’t use, I am offended you deliver one to my doorstep, — me, me, me. Please people, get a life. It’s just a phone book. It takes them longer to write their rants and complaints than it does to just recycle what they don’t want.

And so on and on. Usually I find the vast majority of these people are well intentioned but totally uninformed. Usually when presented with the facts, they will at least take the time to reconsider their position.

But now it’s getting personal. Case in point — this captain of commerce ignored all the facts presented and still ran this charming write-up: click here, but don’t do so on an empty stomach. He even went as far as to suggest everyone send me books they don’t want. Well, if they want to waste the postage and be even less eco-friendly, fine, I will gladly recycle any that show up. But you should note that the writer also closed his blog to further comments — hence, you now see the ugly side of the Internet, and it’s personal. Of course the other thing to note is the writer is hiding behind his site — you don’t know anything about who this, they don’t even have a formal mailing address, and it appears they are some local search engine marketing group (so of course there is no agenda there).

I hope all of you that read this have this key takeaway — these efforts are not going to go away, this industry in under siege, you livelihood will soon be under attack –> it’s time to start pushing back. All of us. Now. Because it’s starting to get personal….


7 Responses to 'Now it get’s personal'

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  1. Charles said,

    I think it was Pat Moynihan who said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

    I do find it particularly offensive when people act tough online and then hide to avoid accountability and confrontation. It is an especially unattractive form of cowardice that’s unique to the Internet.

    My personal view is that the more the publishers can embrace opt out and make it work (and not be mere window dressing), the better off the industry will be. Plus it might mute some of the ire directed (or misdirected?) at Yellow Pages.

    I’ve talked to a lot of people inside the big publishers who are a little frustrated that leadership doesn’t see it this way, and would rather do the minimum rather than go all in and do it right. I think opt-out is inevitable so they may as well get out in front of the issue, more so than they have already.

  2. KenC said,

    Good thoughts Charles.

    The Internet has no doubt yielded some tremendous opportunities to easily find previously unreachable information, it also has created a new class of neo-journalists that really bring very little to the table, including exactly who they are and what their true agendas are.

    But specific to your comments, I think we all hope that given the opportunity to put proper processes in place, opt-out will be a non-issue in the not to distant future for most publishers.

    As an industry with a 125+ year history of never being shy about making the changes the marketplace expects and needs (perhaps with little fanfare though), one has to be believe they will rally on this issue too,

  3. JohnT said,

    From the cited article:

    “Anywhere a phone exists there’s most likely Internet access or WiFi, making your product obsolete…”

    Uhm, no. Nearly 30% of the population of this country doesn’t even have an internet connection, a figure that has been consistent since 2004. Of the 215 million that do have an internet connection, only 65 million of them have access to a broadband connection. However, 95% of us do have access to a phone line.

    The writer is making the classic mistake of *assuming that his experience is universal* when, in fact, it is not. He (the royal “he” – the writer might be female for all I gathered) is assuming that because he has a broadband internet connection, *everybody* does. But that’s not even close to being accurate, which, given that the above quote is the premise for his arguments, makes his deductions that follow from it irrelevant.

    In his first posting on this issue he makes the same mistake:

    “I’m guessing most people simply use google or favorite search to type in the company name and zip code. Simply search, “plumbers” and “denver” to find their information in seconds.”

    He’s flat out wrong. “Most people” implies a subset of “All the people”, or 100% of the population. Since 30% of the population *doesn’t even have an internet connection*, he is saying that nearly 3/4 of the remaining 70% use the process described above… which is nowhere close to being true.

    How many people find it more efficient to

    1. Log in their 56k AOL/Earthlink accounts
    2. Wait 60 seconds for the modems to link, then…
    3. Wait another 40 seconds for the AOL intro screen to load, then…
    4. Wait another 30 seconds for their “favorite search engine” to load, then…
    5. Wait another 30 seconds, minimum, *per clicked-on link* to determine if the results match their needs, all to
    6. Make a phone call (which they will possibly need to log out of the internet to do)

    than to go to their Denver-area phone books, look up “Plumbers”, and read the ads, calling the numbers within… a process that takes 30 seconds at most? Likely, not very many… but the writer of the cited blog merely assumes that people find the internet easier because *he* might find it easier. That’s sloppy research and even sloppier “reportage.”

  4. Hmm said,

    If you don’t have a net connection, buy a CD of the yellow paages and run it offline, but for god’s sake leave the trees alone and let me have more toilet paper from that recylcle pulp!

  5. KenC said,

    HMM: you have of course missed the point — the the Yellow Pages industry doesn’t knock down any trees for its paper!!! Let me repeat that – they don’t need to cut any trees for their paper supply.

    Currently, on average, most publishers are using about 40% recycled material (from the newspapers and magazines you are recycling curbside), and the other 60% comes from wood chips and waste products of the lumber industry. If you take a round tree and make square or rectangular lumber from it, you get plenty of chips and other waste. Those by-products make up the other 60% of the raw material needed.

    Note that these waste products created in lumber milling would normally end up in landfills. Not only that, as wood chips decompose, they emit methane, a greenhouse gas closely associated with global warming, which I assuming you are also very worried about.

    Paper manufacturing thus puts these chips to good use. If you have an issue with your toilet paper perhaps you should talk with that industry about where their raw materials come from…

  6. james said,

    Ken I just discovered this site. The site you reference above is some aggregator site that ripped off my post. I wrote that post in may, and you actually commented on my article yourself.

    I don’t hide anonymously on the ‘net. My name is James, my address is 191 University in Denver, and I usually hang out at Barracuda’s on Thursday if you’re even in the area. My treat.

    The original post you reference is here, and my comments are always open.

    You can find out more about me by reading my three years of content at

    I actually do more than just bitch about phone books.

    Thanks, james..

  7. KenC said,


    So let me see if I have this correct: I quoted a site that ripped off your site which brings you to the same point — your website where I actually commented on the original subject which you blogged on?

    Glad to see the breath of your efforts goes beyond just ranting about yellow pages and next time I’m in the Denver area I welcome a chance to swing by and have a beer with you. How’s the food there??

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