Please Build Me Something Useful: A Letter To Web 2.0 Developers


A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.
Warren Buffett

I have a confession to make. I have tried out hundreds of Web 2.0 applications, and there is one and only one that I use almost every day. You see, the problem with Web 2.0 is that I'm not a social person. I never read reviews before I buy something on Amazon. I never read restaurant reviews, travel reviews, hotel reviews, or anything else written by the average person. Maybe they work for some people, but in my experience, they have zero correlation to what I like. If I want a review, I like to look at things like what a CNET expert said about a product. Whatever Jody in Boston, MA thinks is meaningless to me.

Case in point. For Christmas, I asked for a specific suitcase. Mrs. Businesspundit looked it up online and called me over. "It has one review," she said. "And it's really bad."

I responded with "for all I know that lady could be a crackpot, or a competitor trying to leave a bad message. I still want the suitcase." I got it. And I've loved it. It's perfect for me. The right size, the right features. I really just love it. Thank goodness I ignored that review. Otherwise I might have ended up with a suitcase that was popular, but very unsuited for me.

Here is what I don't understand. How does anyone but me know what I like? Why should I trust the judgement of others over my own? Most importantly… am I the only one out there who thinks this way? Web 2.0 has added almost zero value to my life. I don't need to connect and stay in touch. I don't need to hear what other people are saying. I don't care what news stories are the most read or emailed. I don't need other people to share and tag their… whatever it is they are sharing and tagging these days. I don't want what is popular, I want what is good, and in my experience, those two things only overlap a small percentage of the time.

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I'm not knocking the people that want to spend all their time finding out about other people, it's just not for me. And that is why I am asking you, the Web 2.0 community, please please please build something for me. I want apps that make my life easier, not more complicated. I want apps that save time so I can spend fewer hours online and more time doing other things. I don't care about free. I'm willing to pay for things if it weeds out the noise and gives me a stronger signal. Am I the only one who thinks this way? Am I the only one that doesn't care about mash-ups? Am I the only one that wants function over form?

I have enough friends. And I think if I had to watch their every move on twitter all day, I probably need my head examined for some kind of insecurity issue. What I don't have enough of is time. Get me that, and I'll gladly pay for it.

(That one site I use most every day? I love it.)