If you stay up-to-date with what's in vogue among the technology elite, you've probably heard about turntable.fm. If you haven't, let me tell you: it's a website where you listen to music with other people. And when I say with other people, I mean it looks like your avatar is standing in a club with other people listening to DJs up on a booth. You can rate the song as "Awesome" or "Lame," chat with other clubbers, and even DJ if there's a free spot. DJs get points for awesome songs that let them get new avatars. It's absurdly addicting. And so the tech world has been abuzz with praise that has typically failed to see the really important lessons here.
There's a revolution going on, and it's more than what people think. The new, social, virtual world in which we're increasingly finding ourselves has opened the door to a wide variety of physical extensions to that online reality. In particular, a slew of price and product comparison tools have arisen, facilitated by the rise in ultra-mobile computing (namely smartphones). Additionally, new sharing tools are allowing us to focus on the experience or result we want from a product rather than the physical object itself. When we share an item or buy collaboratively, we extend the life of the product and also get utility from it at a lower price than the physical object required to deliver that experience. In other words, we are increasingly buying the hole rather than the power drill, the movie rather than the actual DVD, the transportation to work rather than the car… perhaps one day the sleep rather than the bed, the home rather than the house. The possibilities for entrepreneurs are endless right now.
Finding the Balance between “Contribute Now” and “Register First”
People don’t like to sign up for things. Signing up is mentally equated with receiving
spam marketing emails. For example, at a blood drive event near me last year, only a handful of people signed up ahead of time, but almost six times more people showed up.
Web designers face a similar dilemma. It’s important that users sign up for websites where users contribute content, both to reduce spam and to track and identify users’ contributions. But often users don’t want to sign up, even though they want to contribute – and the barrier of signing up will keep some people from contributing. I’ve experienced this personally; especially when dealing with something contentious, people often don’t feel comfortable giving an unknown website their identity in this age of limited privacy.
Rupert Murdoch has announced that News Corp will start completely blocking Google from its websites. Or something like that -- it's kind of hard to understand what he means, probably because he doesn't understand what he means. This is a man that doesn't get the internet, and he wants to impose an old-school financial model on it. My favorite tech blog, Mashable, had this insightful comment: