Sunday, August 24, 2014

The alluring power of total bullshit

What's that I smell? Is it perfume? Is it food? No - it's total bullshit. It overwhelms me every time I go near the internet. It's at its worst near the crowdfunding websites. How much of this crowdfunding is genuine? There was a crowdfunding campaign for Solar Roadways which is what I'd call a bullshit campaign.

If this link is followed, there's a video on just why one fellow says solar roadways are bullshit. But why is it so alluring?

A good scam has to fire the imagination and get people interested and involved. The solar roadways project is absolutely not about building solar roadways. It's all about one fellow earning a living off donations while producing some psuedo-science along the way that looks promising but which even he knows will ultimately fail. When it fails, he doesn't care - he's been developing the thing for years and has been living, paying his pension and his rent for that number of years while producing absolutely sod all.

Solar Roadways are just a total scam. The project is not about ecology - it's about one guy putting food on the table until the gravy train ends. He'll then move onto his next scam which will probably be water turbines run from the drains on urinals.

It seems that a lot of crowdfunding is not about completing an actual project but more about getting free beer money. Crowdfunding makes the news when a project actually gets some funding. The vast majority don't get any funding whatsoever. For a bit of fun I put up a crowdfunding project called "Save the rare wongatan". In that, I made up a rare beast called the "wongatan" which was a cross between an orangutan and a wombat. It was so rare that only 100 breeding pairs were left in the wild. Sure - I put up some photos too but crucially left the payment fields blank so that I wouldn't be taking money under false pretences.

What was the result of the Wongatan campaign? Zero - as expected. Nobody viewed the campaign at all. That leads to the question - does anybody actually view these things? Sure - some people probably get funding but it's the weirder wackier stuff that fires the imagination that is broadcast as having received funding. Maybe in order for that kind of thing to work, you have to be a scammer.

The whole internet is full of very alluring total bullshit. The problem is navigating between the fact and fiction. The one inescapable fact is that social media is very alluring but total bullshit. How many of the "friends" you have on Facebook have you ever met? If you haven't ever met or spoken to them then you cannot call them friends. The best you can call them is pen-friends. The beautiful lady with whom you correspond could be an ugly-looking guy just out of jail. The handsome man with whom you correspond could be a prostitute having a laugh.

Wikipedia is another fine example of total bullshit. There is no editorial control - anybody can edit it. I've edited wikipedia myself to correct errors and then somebody has re-corrected after me to put the errors back. Those were errors that could be identified easily if somebody opened a damn book and read the text instead of relying upon regurgitated misquotations from somebody else's regurgitated misquotations based upon what somebody read in a book 10 years ago in 3rd grade.

There's no getting away from it - the internet is full of bullshit. Take the online games people play - as soon as the game comes out somebody works out a way of cheating. As soon as a game comes out somebody clones it or produces one with a slightly different name. I believe there was a game called flappy bunny which then got copies as fuzzy rabbit, knobbly elephant etc. It's all bullshit and a waste of time. If somebody's cheating then it's not a game but rather a waste of time.

No wonder people were more productive and happier before the internet became so widely used.

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