Sunday, July 11, 2010

We will sell you popularity: Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, et al.

I hate twitter, and all that pseudo-intellectual bullshit that goes along with "web 2.0" media hype garbage. A 'tweet' is nothing more than a text message. Period. What's so damn 2.0 about a text message? In 2010? Nothing.

Twitter has noticed this, and is now offering to SELL popularity, or promote you to other people on twitter if you pay them extra. This is the nail in the coffin scenario for any startup. When you have to cannibalize your own clients, it's bad.

This is such a stupid situation that I'm writing a 'what is 2.0' post for the Seattle P.I. and I'll link to that here later[1]. News flash: texting is not 2.0. It's 0.5, a step back!

I understand that corporations are desperate to make money, and that publicly traded corporations are under pressure to deliver increased revenue every year. They are not, really, but that's the common lie and I'll just skim over it here for the sake of argument. We all know they want the 'benjamins', and really most people don't have a problem with it because why? We want money too.

It's okay to want money. It's okay to get money through legitimate means. It's not okay to rob, steal, lie, defraud, cheat, or otherwise obtain wealth by nefarious means or at any cost.

When companies begin to become too powerful, they almost immediately start fleecing their clients. This appears to be a natural trend, but competition almost always erupts to put the brakes on that, because as soon as any company starts to get windfall it's going to attract attention from other companies. We can do this too, they say, and do.

That's why it's important not just to the consumer, to the civilians, but to other companies and the government, to allow an equitable market free of excessive regulation or monopolies. Any monopoly must be a government entity that is tightly regulated, and operated for the good of the public, not for profits. Why would you want to do that? Read my article on nonprofits and governance[2]. It's a good, but long, story.

When twitless announced that they're going to start mining their users for money, ala "popularity", also known as 'internal revenues', many greeted it with glee. They should be running. This is a very bad thing. It's bad for business, bad for twits [people who use twitter, and I'm in favor of calling them twats,] and is bound to end in a firestorm of failure. I follow twitter, somewhat reluctantly, because it's just hard not to watch a train wreck when it happens right in front of you.

What do you bring to your customers, Mr/s. We let them send 150 ASCII limited characters as instant messages to many different devices and via websites.

How is that different from any other instant messenger? It isn't, well, except that you can't send special characters, it's easy to spam, and our target demographic is lower-middle-class people with excessive vanity.

So how do you make a living from this? It's free. We shovel advertising at them as fast as they'll tolerate it.

Why would anyone want that when most IM services do NOT spoon-feed their users advertising messages? We get away with it because we say we're "2.0."

That didn't work for MSN, and why do you think it'll work for you? We think we're smarter than Microsoft.

Good luck with that, Twitter.

1. P.I. blog:
2. NP&G:

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