Friday, December 23, 2005

Folk Remedies and Internet Marketing

Folk Remedies and Internet Marketing
A while ago, I read Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, a fascinating book that details how some folk remedies actually work. One of the points it makes is that remedies that cross cultures and withstand the test of time are often quite effective.

I'm curious about how this principle applies to Internet marketing. If you're like me, you've probably run across what I call the cheezy Internet marketing guru newsletter sites--Web sites that consist of a single, extremely long Web page, full of bold-faced type, different colors, and lots of exclamation marks.

I've always looked at those sites and just shaken my head.

But if we apply the folk remedy analogy, maybe there is something to them. After all, the same thing applies to stuff like spam, porn, and telemarketing. If it didn't work, why would people do it?

So here's my challenge to you: Is there any way that "legitimate" Silicon Valley marketers can learn something from the newsletter/ebook crowd?

Wealth vs. Money

Wealth vs. Money

Paul Graham has posted one of the essays from his book, "Hackers and Painters" to PaulGraham.com.

I'm a bit torn on this one, because I think it has some great points, but I also think it could be much shorter. Therefore, allow me to offer you my bullet-point summary of the essay:

1. Money is not wealth. Money is just a shorthand. Making wealth consists of doing what people want.

2. Thinking of money as wealth leads people to believe that wealth is a zero-sum game of dividing a fixed pie of money. In fact, the best way to make money is to expand the pie by creating wealth (which can then be converted into money).

3. Great programmers (and other top performers) can be orders of magnitude more productive than average. Big companies and regular jobs tend to average everyone out. Therein lies the problem with big companies.

4. Startups offer a better deal for top people. You can be measured on your output (because the company is small enough to act as a proxy for your own productivity), and technology provides tremendous leverage.

5. In fact, because startups are so productive, a good strategy is to "run upstairs" by seeking out the hard problems (that offer commensurate rewards). The harder the problem, the less likely a big company can tackle it as quickly as a startup.

6. Of course, keep in mind that startups offer a better deal on average. Startups are mosquitoes that either succeed or get squashed, unlike a lumbering corporate bear, which can take a lot of hits without going down (just look at General Motors).

7. Because wealth consists of doing what people want, the best measure of success is the number of users you have. Get out there as quickly as possible, because without users, you're optimizing based on guesses.

8. Capitalism works because it lets the people who create the wealth keep most of it. When government doesn't let you keep what you create, the incentive to create goes away.

Ultimately, I agree with every one of Paul's points; I just think he could have said it in fewer words. What do you think? Did I do a good job of summarizing the gist?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The High Cost Of Dying

The High Cost Of Dying

On a recent day at work, I ended up getting into a discussion of whether or not I'd pay extra for a quick death versus a painful death (the topic came up over the PRC's practice of charging executed criminals for the bullets required to kill them, and how you could save a few RMB by only paying for a single bullet).

I maintained that if I was going to die anyway, whether it was painful or painless was irrelevant. This was, to put it mildly, the minority opinion.

When I told my wife about my position, she commented, "I'm going to remember this when you're old and dying. When the doctors go to give you painkillers, I'm going to tell them, 'No drugs for my husband; he doesn't want to spend the extra money.'"

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Primordial Ooze

The Primordial Ooze
Back during pre-crash 2000, I used to joke to my friends that it seemed like a new business model crawled out of the primordial ooze each day--the implication being that natural selection would eventually kill abominations like advertising-supported cars.

As I try to plow through hundreds of blog posts a day, and run across things like ScanR (boy, my advice to buy eiantstr.com is looking better and better each day), I can't shake the feeling that I've seen this movie before.

If you've got a buyout offer, in cash, I suggest you take it.

In the long run, I am incredibly bullish, but I think we may be at a short term peak, making it a good time to sell....