Abstract: A site where users can post transcripts of videos and overly wordy articles. Users paste in the URL of the original source and get transcripts posted by other users.
Problem: Lots of people are posting essentially empty infomercial-style content – frequently in video formats – posing as useful advice. The problem is you have to spend effort sifting through various introductory remarks and claims before you can determine if the advice is of any actual use. In the case where the content is a video, this can be a frustrating waste of time.
Solution: Provide a way for people who have invested their time for little return to summarize any valuable content for others. Index the summaries by source URL so that additional software, such as a web browser plug-in, can find the short version automatically.
As an example if the original transcript reads something like this, in part: “Hi, this is Joe Hacker, the PC Performance Expert(tm). We hope you catch our weekly show and daily podcasts on…[blah blah blah]”, the transcript might read “To improve system performance, defragment your system disk on a regular basis with JK Defrag, available from www.kessels.com.”
- The site will be subject to hackers and spammers who will post irrelevant content. Some sort of trusted user rating system is needed to ensure the spam is eliminated and best versions rise to the top.
- There may be some copyright concerns with transcripts. One way to limit this is to restrict the size of the synopsis.
Ideas are cheap. Really. There are hundreds, thousands, millions of them floating around out there. Many of them aren’t all that unique. Most are so vague that they don’t even rate being called an idea [One of my favourites: “I’ve got an idea, let’s create an environment that empowers decision makers!” – that’s not an idea, it’s vacuous fluff.]
The vast majority ideas aren’t “good” for a variety of reasons. But even after you cull non-ideas and bad ideas, and remove the duplicates, there’s still a lot of good ideas. Lots and lots. Too many.
I suffer from idea-osis.
Edited 2020: Consumer Reports “archived” the articles referenced here when they stopped publishing Consumerist in 2017. Since they didn’t bother to put in redirects for their old URLs, the links have been broken for some time. Better yet, with the latest reorganization of this site, the internal link didn’t work because I didn’t bother to put in redirects either. Sad face. Now they all work again.
Since my Skype Fraud post is one of the most popular here, I thought I’d throw in a few references to some other similar tricks. This one is particularly funny:
Bad Luck Facebook Scammer, You Picked A Target Who Reads Consumerist with the wonderful phrase “Once I deposit the funds, you can print it out of any colour printer and it’s real money!”
Then there’s the original article referenced in the one above: Nigerian Scammers Break Into Your Gmail, Ask Your Friends For Money.
We can only hope that one of these days the scammers just go out of business because everyone has enough information to spot them and waste their time. Not likely, but one can hope.
Probably everyone has seen a dozen of these by now. Usually someone has discovered some amazing way to make money, or to achieve something that makes money. He or she will tell you all about it, at great length on their seemingly one page web site.
Oh and what a page it is. Make $103,736 a month plucking chickens at home. Just keep reading and we’ll tell you how. Watch our fantastic headers show up in uppercase red text. Count the exclamation points! Look at how we make everything longer with our big borders and narrow copy area.
There’s even proof: here’s images of copies of the Big Fat Earnings.
And now testimonials. Joe the Plumber used this system and now has two houses and three vacation properties. Maybe you can even hear from Joe in a video. Regular folk who look like losers made money with this fantastic technique.
Here’s a link to get started NOW. But just in case you’re not convinced, let’s repeat the whole thing, saying the same stuff in a slightly different way.
Okay, let’s repeat that again. And again. Maybe even again.
Well if you got all the way down here you MUST be convinced, so save 50% or more in this time limited offer by clicking on this *special* link! Only a fool would pass this by!
And now you’re at the end.
Ten, twenty, thirty pages of essentially empty claims all jammed into one and dressed up in a loud suit. The only option for navigation is to the order page.
You’ve just been subjected to a Toilet Paper Pitch. If you printed it out, you’d get a long roll ready for what it’s worth.
Ever notice how these things read like those old five page double-sided direct snail mail pieces you used to have to wade through fifteen years ago? That’s because they’re direct descendants. They try to get you in a box, lead you through their pitch. I think the same cabal of old men is convincing people that this is the way to go in the web world and cranking them out at some ludicrous price.
At some point this pitch style must have worked for someone, because not a week goes by that I don’t see another variation on this theme. Style over substance, or maybe bullsh*t baffles brains, I’m not sure which.
But enough already. It’s tired. It’s lame. It’s not Web 2.0, it’s Web 0.5. It’s old. It’s done. It’s boring. Build a useful site instead… unless of course your product is crap. In which case TP is definitely the way to go.
Do something else. Anything. Please.
Yesterday marks a significant milestone. A number of years ago I created a virtual abstract sculptural form that I’ve come to call “Infolds 1”. I liked it enough to start casually exploring the idea of turning it into a real object. Each time I looked at the problem it wasn’t easy. Even if it was possible, it wouldn’t have been cheap. So it never worked out.
A few months ago, I dusted the project off once again. Thanks to a series of Internet-era connections from Twitter and sculpture.net, I discovered that 3D printing technology had made it possible to create this form in metal and plastic. The metal process is still not inexpensive, partially because any metal isn’t inexpensive these days. But the plastic version is quite affordable.
Last weekend I finished the process of converting my design into an acceptable file format, uploaded it to Shapeways, and ordered it! In a week or two, I hope to see it show up in my mailbox. I’ll post photographs as soon as I can. This is all very exciting.
What’s even more interesting is that Shapeways lets you set up your own store, so now you too can order my art online, in three sizes. I hope you like it. Comments are welcome, but be gentle if you can.
On my main site I’ve also posted a longer article on the path that’s led me to making sculptural art.