For all you ag readers under the age of 30, or the age of Google, you may not understand how all us oldies found information.
In 1996 there wasn’t much to find, and it certainly couldn’t be found easily . This was the days of Angelfire, or the Canadian equivalent at Sympatico. Most ISP’s allowed you to have some free space where you could build your own website. For myself we started with a page with links to media coverage of the battle of the Canadian Wheat Board when they were literally throwing farmers in jail for selling wheat. The farm media of the time were owned by the same grain companies that supported the status quo, so coverage was heavily skewed in the direction of the government at the time.
As it is a long cold winter in Canada, our website quickly expanded to become Prairielinks.Com and turned into perhaps the largest AgLinks directory online with 10’s of thousands of links to all aspects of agriculture. This was a time when Yahoo, AskJeeves, and this new company called Google would direct a large amount of traffic to sites like this, as it was a trusted source for information.
With the launch of Google Adsense around 2003, this led to the golden age for small independent online publishers. Being able to place a bit of code on your website to show display ads for a few pennies a click and then having Google send you check every month was something that was very hard to explain to 99.99% of the population.
But as Google giveth, eventually Google taketh away. Rather than sending website traffic to websites like this, Google slowly started shifting traffic to large corporate sites, or direct to sites that hosted the content. Or Wikipedia. Or even worse Google gives you the answer directly.
Try a search for “Elvis Birthday” In the past you would be sent to an Elvis fan site for all kinds of information, now Google simply gives you the answer without going anywhere.
So the day of the link site has past some time ago, and now PrairieLinks.Com has been shut down .
But without PrairieLinks, we would never have met Joe Dales from Farms.com . With his suggestion to talk to a print publisher in Ottawa, we soon launched AgDealer.com into Western Canada. Without that experience we would never have developed FarmAuctionGuide.com in 2001 and built that into the Global Auction Guide Media Group and the largest auction advertising network on the Internet.
The one constant is that winter is still damn cold on the farm outside Winterpeg Manitoba.
But at least we can sell our wheat to the highest bidder.