Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Did I Do a Lens about Adrienne Barbeau?

Late last week I was reading posts in the SquidU forums and came across a discussion about people who make barebones lenses and then never touch them again. Someone mentioned a guy who made 75 lenses, mostly using the SquidWho format, about celebrities. Squidoo says you can make a lens in five minutes, and this guy took them at their word. When a lens is started using SquidWho, the lens is automatically populated with very basic stuff like a one-line intro module, an abstract from Wikipedia, some related stuff found on and presented as thumbnails (the least informative way to present Amazon stuff), and a basic and rather insipid poll, among other things. For his lenses, that's all this guy has.

I looked at a bunch of his lenses, and found that his top-ranked lens was a typical quickie about Adrienne Barbeau. I had heard of her, but she's never been in big blockbuster movies. She was on Broadway as Rizzo in Grease, spent six years playing the divorced daughter on the TV series Maude, and has had roles in a number of horror and science fiction films, including cult classics like The Fog, Escape from New York, Swamp Thing, Creepshow, and the wonderfully-titled Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. More recently she was a snake charmer in HBO's two-season Carnivàle. She's been a guest on a whole lot of TV shows, and she's still, at 63, very active with several projects lined up for this year and beyond. I think I recalled she was in Maude, but I hadn't paid a lot of attention to her, not being a big movie and TV buff.

Then I happened to notice something about that barebones lens: its lensrank on Squidoo. It was higher, in the mid-3,000 range, than my Spoonerisms lens. It was only a small difference in lensrank, but it really bothered me. Here was a nothing lens with no original content, only a very few star ratings, outranking my lens which has 115 high star ratings, was Lens of the Day in November, was a runnerup in the Humor category of the 2008 Giant Squid Awards, and has tons of content I wrote myself.

I guess that means that a minimal lens about a Hollywood celebrity, especially one known to males the world over for her bust (and if that's all they know about her, they are really missing out - there is much more to her), can beat a lens on another subject in which someone has invested a lot of time and creativity. Unfortunate, but that's the way the world works.

I looked around on Squidoo, and there were no other lenses about Adrienne Barbeau, so I decided to make a real lens about her, one with real content, not just predigested pap. I initially figured I could put something together in about an hour or so. There might not be a whole lot there, but even in an hour I figured I could make a lens that would blow the other one out of the water.

Funny thing about that. As I started looking up stuff about Adrienne Barbeau, I got really interested in what she's been doing since she got into show business. I was amused by the movie title Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. There's something about the word "avocado" in that title that gives it an extra kick. As I expected, the movie is a spoof. It's known for it's takes feminism, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars. I learned that Ms. Barbeau has been a consistent and extremely versitile performer. She's had many roles since the early 1970s, something one would not expect from someone relying on her bust size, which she obviously hasn't done.

The lens soon became more than just a simple, though better, example of a lens about a celebrity. I wrote content about her career, based on Wikipedia and the Internet Movie Database. At first I was going to use the standard Amazon module to feature five movies. It would have the regular small graphic of the DVD cover, and I'd write a line or two about the film. But then I decided, no, I'll use the text module with a much larger graphic, write more than a line or two, and make my usual text links to and In the end, I featured the HBO series Carnivàle, three movies, her self-titled CD (from CD Baby - I'm an affiliate with them), her autobiography (Amazon and an audiobook from CD Baby) and her novel Vampyres of Hollywood, co-written with Michael Scott. I also added a poll, a couple of interview videosm an image (another place where I'm an affiliate) and an RSS news feed.

Even without the videos, books, CD, poll and news feed, I spent about three hours or so on the lens on Friday night. It's still less than 72 hours since I first published the lens, but it's already ranking about 13,000 on Squidoo. Google doesn't seem to have found it yet. I hope they will soon because that should give it a boost. I spent more time over the weekend and even this morning (that's when I found out about the CD Baby items). I've submitted it to Digg, StumbleUpon, and other networking sites.

I'm going to be interested in seeing what becomes of this lens. Who knows? Maybe I've been on the wrong track and should just put up a bunch of celebrity lenses.


MiMi said...

Well, MobyD, I hope that was just a thought when you said maybe you should start doing these celeb lenses -- unless you become passionate about the topic. Of course, you don't need me to tell you that. ...What I hope is that you knock the other lens out of the water. It's late, but I am going to check out your lens tomorrow and expect to be rather blown away by what you've done with it. I can tell by this post that you care about this lady and I want to see her shown in a less superficial light than is the norm. I know I will find that. ...What makes me curious is WHY this other lens is beating Spoonerisms. What is this guy doing to give his empty lens so much weight? What, I wonder? Whatever it is, if it's legal, we can beat them at their own game. Would love to see others' reactions and comments regarding your post -- will Twitter it now.

pattb said...

I'll be curious to see what happens too. Maybe this guy has some way to drive traffic to his lenses? But traffic doesn't count for everything. If Squidoo's algorithms really work then your lens should pull ahead. I look forward to your post.
Thanks for the tweet, MiMi.