Here's the business model: we network everybody's refrigerators together, wireless, so that your icebox knows what's in the neighbors' and vice versa. Then when you get a craving for something exotic, if you don't have it your 'fridge tells you who does --- and you just sneak over there and grab it!

Sure, it sounds stupid ... nobody would have any reason to stock their own refrigerator, everybody would have to leave their house unlocked, naughty people could near-trivially spoof the system by modifying sensor code and broadcasting false data, and it's utterly vulnerable to denial-of-service attack by a few clowns. Pfluhghkh! But this is precisely the silliness that passes for reality in so many starry-eyed newspaper puff pieces for so many erstwhile high-tech start-ups.

Reporters haven't learned to ask for an even simple systems-analysis of what's proposed. Instead, it's all hype ... so any articulate shyster who can spin a cute yarn and grab an eager writer's attention gets coverage on the front page of the business section. No equations needed, or wanted. Hardly any code to write either. A demo can be faked up or patched together out of scripts and existing software modules. What tomfoolery! And yet many people fall for it, time and again.

It's the "tell me a story" syndrome that we humans are, by nature, so susceptible to. We don't think about:

New bogus schemes appear in every day's news. By the time one collapses, the techno-salesman will have cashed the checks and moved on to something else; the reporter will be chasing another chimera; the customers and the stockholders will be left with the wreckage. Oops....

Friday, June 09, 2000 at 19:12:51 (EDT) = 2000-06-09

TopicThinking - TopicSociety

(correlates: WhatCounts, AirFlow, LightningRods, ...)