The Commodotized Web

A FB friend of mine posted an interesting article recently, which I quoted here — and a big part of the story are websites that “commoditize” work (and therefore they are also a little reminiscent of the “Start Here” post I wrote when starting this website).

There are many websites on the web which treat their so-called “web content” as undifferentiated commodity goods / services, from “Youtube videos” to “Uber drivers”. Since the contents such websites offer are so undifferentiated / such commodities the content is usually plagued in a “race to the bottom” pricing scheme. Unparalleled competition drives margins to zero, and it is a well-known “fact” in economics that ultimately there is no economic profit to be gained from engaging is such markets / marketplaces.

It makes a lot of sense for people to think about how best to identify such colossal wastes of time (also know as “time sucks”). Luckily, I think I have come up with a quick and easy “sucks detector”. It’s actually so simple and so much in line with things I have said before, I am quite amazed that I haven’t stumbled upon it, over it, and been blown away by it yet. Well, like they say: Better late than never! 😀

You may actually find this counter-intuitive, but I feel the single strongest “sucks” indicator is a quantitative ratings system. In these days of bogus data science and quantification, coming up with a scoring algorithm is on par with a free ride to unicorn heaven. Butterflies and rainbows abound in scores and along the scales of unicorn measurement metrics. A perfect 10 is not only a sexy woman from the 70s busting onto the screen like a Bolero riding the waves, washing onto a beach, landing on the sand, inspiring dreams like cloud formations in the sky,… it is also the top position on a leaderboard, the first page of Google hits, a steller trending topic flashing in bright lights. It’s the winner of the talent show, the universal answer, the shooting star standing out from the masses, all poor and huddled.

The long tail of remnants remain lost in space. Oodles of nondescripts permeate the vast stretches of ether. Endless grains of sand amout to little or nothing, when compared to the top result. Stardust is nothing like regular dirt.

So if you come across a score, be very careful. This may very well simply be a trick to fool you into falling for some fake statistic of quality. Quality and quantity are two different ball games: Quality is complicated, quantity is simplistic.

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