I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that while I was doing the “right thing” and hacking it out in College for five (and a half) years the village idiots of the world were quitting their jobs, shacking off the chains of the workaday world and relying on income from web advertisements in a dot com era, the fact that I had to wrestle with the notion that I was possibly wasting my time with College – the majority of the dot com millionaires were doing good to even be High School graduates, the fact that I realized there was a good possibility that the shine would be off the rose by the time I would be able to even do anything in the “web world”, or the fact that just as soon as I see the logic behind the notion of web advertisements and the fact that they can indeed be a good thing to sustain the income and livlehood of those whom I draw entertainment and news from, the whole thing goes to shit and dot coms bomb left and right. Although I had a problem with people drawing their income from running a web page of all things, and I loathe pop up, pop under, pop whatever ads, I don’t really mind television ads – some of them are quite entertaining in fact – and that’s really all web ads are. Except that the barrier to entry for the web is much lower. To get on a television show you have to have acting talent, plus you have to convinvce someone you are worthy of being on their television show. All you have to do to set up the ultimate Dragon Fantasy Chronicles 12 Expansion Pack website is to pick up an HTML/Flash book at the local Barnes & Noble and devote a week or so to it. And who wouldn’t to forego want an 8 to 5 job? I really like this job I’m at most of the time, but I would much rather prefer to sit around the house all day with my kittens and a keyboard.
So part of me wants to laugh at the web economy – we haven’t even really seen the worst of it yet. All those fools who wanted to weasle out of the “real world” are now doubly screwed – they not only are unemployed, but they’re now without marketable skills – marketable to anyone else besides other web companies whose date with the hangman is likely down the road a piece. But then I realize that there are some dot coms I don’t want to bomb. Blue’s News comes to mind. I’m willing to put up with the annoying pop up flash ads so that I can read about the latest Quake beta patch. However, look at Penny Arcade. They come out with an entertaining comic thrice weekly and attempt to make a living off of it. When their ad thingy went bust they resorted to donations. So far they’ve been able to dodge the bullet of traditional labor, but how long this can last remains to be seen. As someone who has plopped down hundreds of dollars on DVD’s and Games I can play and watch infrequently at best, throwing a couple of dollars towards a couple of entertaining chaps so that I can check their humor three times weekly seems like a good tradeoff. Yet I haven’t done it. The main reason is because I’m lazy, but on another level there is the fact that what they are essentially impying is that I and others should give them out money so that they can do what it is I want to do – sit around and play games all day. I’m sorry – it might be different if they were providing deeper content (and since I’m a longtime subscriber of various magazines, I know whereof I speak) but I’m not going to send you the money I work for so that you can not work. It doesn’t work that way. However, I’m not completely without passion – they stated that if half the site’s visitors donated a dollar a month they would be set. Okay, here’s $12 – but I want my money back if you go bust in a year.
The next time you go to your grocery store, go to whatever aisle it is they sell Barbecue Sauce (hint: usually the same place the ketchup is at). The Barbecue Sauce market is, interestingly enough, a fierce one. Count how many sauces there are (as opposed to, say, how many different types of ketchup there are). It’s mind boggling. Now notice how a lot of the bottles look like “a guy in his basement with some bottles, some locally printed labels, and a really big vat” put them together. Seventy percent of the Barbecue Sauce market (sales, in this case, as opposed to “using” an OS) is cornered by the big guys – Kraft, Hunt, Heinz – with over 30% of the overall market going to Kraft’s K.C. Masterpiece. The remaining 30% is carved out of the hundreds of minor players. When I start to think of the romanicized notion of running a website for fun and profit, I think of all the guys in their basements making the next great niche Barbecue Sauce. Now, how many of these sauces do you think provide their creators with untold riches? Probably very few. Go far enough from the location you’re at and most of these sauces won’t follow you. Their distribution is local at best. While the Internet provides the much greater distribution that the niche Barbecue Sauce maker’s can’t even afford or fathom, at least the Barbecue Sauce makers have a tangible product, which is ultimately worth more.
So anywho, the point of this whole rant was that I’m glad I didn’t drop out of college to do a dot-com (having said that, I do have a dot-com on the side). I’m also glad I’m not relying on the web economy – it will be a profitable venture in the long run and it will stabilize at some point, I’m just glad I’m not one of the hundreds who will be fucked until it does.