Five Star Foul – January 27, 2012

by admin on January 27th, 2012
Five Star Foul

Being new to the Big City, time and again I’ve turned to customer review sites to find everything from barbers to dentists to grocery stores, with some very mixed results. One particularly bad hair cut comes to mind. As the New York Times points out, it’s simple enough for any retailer to game the system. For a few bucks, companies can buy amazingly perfect “5 star” accolades. The lesson here is that social networks are more meaningful when you know the people involved, or at least their motives. One day, I simply stopped a guy with a full head of nicely cut hair and asked him who did it. When I went to the salon, I did get a great cut, but I also found out that if you refer people there, you get a great discount.

Gauging Pinterest

Perhaps this blog comment said it best: “Pinterest is so much more than a fancy online picture book“. Which begs the question, what exactly IS the site useful for? From what I can tell, the main attraction is not just that it’s a fun time-waster. Rather, it’s a place free of commercial come-ons where people at least can maintain the illusion that the act of sharing pictures and ideas doesn’t have to be accompanied by a relentless stream of ads along the side. For how long, I don’t know. But something tells me that if you talked to anyone investing in the start-up, the phrase “revenue stream” would come into play sooner or later.

Bigger is Sometimes Better

Our culture generally idolizes underdogs and vilifies the big guys. So it’s probably un-cool of me to say that I actually kind of dig Google. Not for their weird experiments like Wave and GooglePlus. But I seldom feel as if there’s a hidden agenda when I’m using their services. For example, this week I first got an e-mail letting me know about changes to their privacy policy, laid out in very simple Google fashion. Then I got another one letting me “know that Google Mobile Maps is running on your mobile device and reporting your location” which also explained how to disable the feature. Take that, Facebook.

Speaking of Big Guys

The arrest of larger-than-life Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom this week put an interesting coda on the debate over the U.S Congress’ various proposals to combat web piracy. While the SOPA/PIPA measures were beaten back by a last ditch effort of internet interest groups, the power of the copyright still wields a strong hand in international commerce. Much like the long-ago demise of music file sharing (aka piracy) site Napster, it was probably only a matter of time before governments put a stop to the big guy. The problem with online file sharing, it seems to me, is a lot like the one we have with highway driving. Everyone agrees the speed limit is necessary, but no-one wants to obey it.




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