Posted by: nickgerlich | March 12, 2008

Taking On Water

You know what they say about hindsight. It has the uncanny ability to be crystal clear, an unobstructed view of the past, tainted with a “Duh! Why didn’t we see it?” attitude.

Now wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see that clearly into the future?

Back around the turn of the century, there were dozens of dotcom startups that faced the startling reality of seemingly good ideas that were mere duds covered in shiny e-commerce wrapping paper. One of the many dotcoms that came hurtling (as well as hurling) back to earth was GovWorks.com, so poignantly chronicled in the docudrama StartUp.com. Some of the original players in this failure were recruited to play themselves in the film. It’s a worthwhile two hours, if you can find this one in your neighborhood bargain bin.

I’ve shown that film in class numerous times, as well as Monday Morning Quarterbacked dozens of other failures. But rare is it when we encounter someone predicting the failures of the future. Even if those case studies are for fictional firms, we seldom ever want to include the word “failure” in our futurecasting, lest we actually fall flat on our faces.

Worst Website EverDown in Austin, where the phrase that pays ought to be “Keep Austin Wired,” the annual SXSW music/film/interactive festival is going on. And, strictly for fun, a contest was held to see who could concoct the worst possible fake web business. As might be expected, the entries were filled with Web 2.0 gobbledygook.

Which tells you that there are cynics out there who see the whole Web 2.0 thing as yet another flash in the pan, a possible repeat of 1.0.

The Most Likely To Go Under was FlockdUp, yet another solcial networking site in which the more friends one has, the higher up in the rankings one progresses. And rankings leads to money. Simple, eh?

While the SXSW exercise was no doubt amusing, and even a little thought-provoking, I think the real value would lay in conducting it all with real business ideas, and letting a panel of industry pundits send them packing…or off to the next round. Just like American Idol.

It sure could have saved a bunch of saps a lot of hard-earned money a few years ago.

Dr “No Need To Fake It” Gerlich

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