Monday, March 8, 2010

Crowdsourcing - Dissonance Overload, Needs and "Innovation"

A close examination of the startups funded by Google alumni reveals that most of these "innovations" are parodies of innovation, designed to serve entirely contrived "needs" for mobile computing "crowdsourcing."

One "star" is the firm which created the game Tap Revenge for the iPhone and other mobile devices. This shining example of American "innovation" and technical prowess (entire new empires of technical innovation beckon from here) is raking in the vast sum of $1 million a month now.

Another "hot company" is Fan Bridge which makes software to manage one's online fan base. The site supposedly has 20 million users and is described as a "no-brainer" goldmine for vulture/venture capitalists.

FourSquare lets "friends" (in parentheses because the word has been so debased by online "friends", Friendster, "friend me," etc. that it has an ambiguous meaning now) share tips on local hotspots.

This is known as crowdsourcing, in which the audience/users provide the content for free and since there are so many voices contributing, the content embodies the "wisdom of crowds." In exchange for creating the content exploited by the "innovative" site, the users earn the right to be bombarded with adverts on their mobile devices.

The silly little detail which is not mentioned in this breathless account of "innovation" is that the vast majority of these "businesses" are based on precisely this same model: crowdsourcing provides content, and advertising provides the revenue stream because everyone already knows nobody will pay even $5 a month subscription for these sorts of proliferating "services."

After all, Yelp and others have already occupied this "space" for some time.

The unasked question in all this "innovation" based on "mobile computing services" is this: if people no longer have any disposable income, then exactly how effective will all those adverts be? Second question: Exactly how many parasitic services can be supported by online adverts? Yes, that "pie" is growing rapidly at the expense of traditional media (and standard Web banner ads), but it remains a tiny sliver of the economy (a few billions of dollars).
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