How it happens

  • Someone makes up a simple application that they think is neat.
  • Somehow the application gets idiotically popular.
  • OMG OPRAH’S USING IT!
  • The creators of these applications get called geniuses by people who are paid to call people geniuses, and suddenly have access to cool clothing, cars, and sex they previously did not have.
  • The people who are paid to call people geniuses show pictures of the creator of the application and make jokes.  This makes the application much more attractive.
  • The original simple application does not work very well with millions of people using it, which makes a few people bitch about it , which, when heard from above, sounds exactly like millions of people saying “I consider this application important enough to bitch about!” which is inevitably interpreted to mean “YOU NEED TO PUT ADS ALL OVER THIS THING!”
  • In order to keep millions of people from getting bored with a simple trick, layers of shiny, sticky paint are added, then advertising, then 78 coats of clear-coat, and finally, threatening-looking doors (made of carefully-stacked lawyers), which give the impression that something important is behind them.
  • Original users moan-brag about how much better the application used to be, and how terrible it is now.  And continue to use it.
  • A greybeard who has been working at another company for a long time, but is JUST SO DARN EXCITED BY THIS IDEA that he couldn’t bring himself to say no to a mind-boggling huge equity position, comes onboard.
  • Enormous security/privacy/spamming problem occurs as a result of no-one giving a good goddamn about that kind of thing until they get burned by it.
  • Application creator issues a statement about how seriously security/privacy/spamming is taken and how sorry he is OR a statement about how anyone expects security/privacy/non-evil behavior on the Internet is a tool.  Doesn’t matter, because the first one is usually free.  One week later, this problem is reported on TV news.  Following weekend, joke about it on edgy network TV comedy.
  • Once the application is sufficiently popular, and has had enough updates that’s it’s pretty much incompatible with anything for more than a week, it’s time for
  • IPO or BUYOUT!  Hooray!  Money! Creator and greybeard appear on the “Business” minute of TV news, ringing a bell in front of a high concentration of Lipitor and silk ties.
  • The application has now attained nirvana–a state in which people now use it because EVERYONE USES IT, and it must be good, because it generates a lot of money, though no-one is sure exactly how.
  • Many miles away, there’s a shadow on the door of a cottage on the shore of a dark Scottish lake.

Spam sez “Learn the secrets of Social NEtworking.”

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