Big squashes little. The elephant steps on a mouse and kills it, but never even notices. We stop on ants on the sidewalk without realizing.
You can probably think of a lot of these cases.
I had a friend who rode a big wave in the late 1980s with a PC-compatible add-on board that enabled a PC to send a fax as easily as printing a document. It was a huge win. Millions of dollars were made. Then Microsoft added a fax facility into a new version of Windows. Pop, crackle, snap.
At about the same time, there was a company in Canada that had a huge business selling compression software that worked with PCs. Then Microsoft bundled compression into a new version of Windows. Pop, crackle, snap.
As blogger, former full-time journalist, and long-term entrepreneur, I’m offended from all three sides by journalists complaining that bloggers don’t get paid on the Huffington Post.
I’m offended by the envy. The money Arianna Huffington and her investors made on the sale of Huffington Post to AOL was classic entrepreneurship, earned by taking risks. They risked their time, money, health, and reputations. They established a business, hired people, rented offices, bought computers, bought server space, and all that. So when they make something happen, they deserve the dollars.
I’m also offended by the distortion. Huffington Post does have journalists on staff, and they get paid as journalists. If you don’t get it, you should probably read this explanation from one of them. And Huffington Post also publishes posts from thousands of bloggers, me included, who post there voluntarily, as self expression, mostly opinion, with no expectation of being paid for it. They want an audience. The distortion on the poster (in the illustration here) makes me angry. “You can’t eat prestige” is pure sensationalism, complete distortion.
Is Twitter exploiting people who tweet? Is Facebook exploiting its users?
The house painter gets paid. The landscape painter doesn’t.
The passport photographer gets paid. The news photographer gets paid. The art photographer doesn’t.
The journalist gets paid. The reporter gets paid. The investigative journalist gets paid. The author of the letter to the editor doesn’t.
Some bloggers are journalists, and should be paid. Reporters for Mashable, Engadget, TechCrunch and Read/Write Web, to cite some well-known examples, are journalists, and they get paid. Guest posters aren’t journalists usually, and they don’t usually get paid.
Summary: entrepreneurship is big risk, and big money if you make something that succeeds. Journalism is work and there is expectation of pay. Some blogging is work with expectation of pay, and some is self expression, which is its own reward.
(Disclosure: I blog on the Huffington Post and my son is CTO. I was also a member of the Newspaper Guild as a professional journalist, on salary with United Press International, a correspondent for McGraw-Hill World News, and a freelancer.)
I read it last weekend on the New York Times website. It’s about a new gadget site to be called GDGT starting this week, developed by founders of other gadget site successes. Get this:
Their new site, called GDGT, will open to visitors on Wednesday. It differs from Engadget or Gizmodo by aspiring to be a gadget-oriented social network. Users of the site can create profiles and specify which consumer electronics devices they have, had or want to buy. Then they can talk about those devices with other owners, discuss new trends and tips, and decide how and when to replace them. (Emphasis mine)
Granted, Twitter changes everything, Facebook too, and Ning is sensational. But please (that’s a three-or-four-syllable p-l-e-a-s-e) — when does this end. Are there infinite successful new ventures out there from just taking any common interest (like gadgets) and making them into social media sites instead? Isn’t there a saturation point?
Take my case; and I’m getting older now, I’m hardly the advance guard. But I have username and password for three of the obvious mainstream social media sites, plus groups including Entrepreneur.com, Smartups.org, asbdc.net, the Business Week social site, and several others I can’t remember.
And that’s the active phrase there: “several others I can’t remember.”
I love gadgets. My son-in-law Noah and I exchange links and such about gadgets all the time. But the last thing I need is yet another new site, with another new password and username, that I’m supposed to be checking for messages. Not that username and password are a problem — plenty of tools for that — but that’s just not going to happen. It’s not just logging in, it’s finding the time and inclination to log into all of these special sites.
And maybe it’s an overdose from my business plan marathon last Spring. Every other new business is building a new social media site to bring people together.
And I just don’t think that’s going to work. Build a group in Facebook, or a chat group in Twitter, or something else that uses the ties and links we already have. Don’t give us another social media site.