Erstwhile Muse

Aug 12, 2006

Calling Bullshit

or "Someone wake me when we're done reliving the dot-com bubble again..."

So as is quite often the case, I am woken up this morning to the sounds of NPR on the radio. Or perhaps it is better to say that I drug myself to full consciousness to listen more intently to something that sounded interesting on NPR, in the case Weekend Edition Saturday. I almost wish I'd stayed asleep just a bit longer, as their Digital Culture section for today was a piece on Popularity Dialer.

For those of you fortunate enough to have missed all mention of this particular little bit of chicanery, let me clue you in, since it seems to be the meme to beat right now in the verbal circle jerk that is the blogosphere. I suppose the best way to do that would be to quote from the source:

Have you ever been in a situation where you wished your cell phone would ring? Maybe you wanted to look extra important or popular on that hot date. Or maybe you just needed an excuse to escape from an unpleasant meeting.
Uhm, lets And do you know why? Because I generally consider myself to not be such a self-important jackass that I need a fake fucking phone call to save me from myself.

What particularly galls me about this little nugget of Web 2.0 bullshit is the fact that everytime I hear about this malodourous ass-whiff of an idea, it is presented as some revolutionary new idea, when all it really is is two graduate students in the Interactive Telecommunications Program—let's not even begin to discuss the afterbirth of an aborted nightmare that is the Flash interface that link leads to, my brain may explode if forced to ponder it any longer—at the Tisch School of the Arts (Art School. Interactive. Technology.*twitchtwitch*) pulling a fast one over on their professor by ripping off ideas from at least one major cellular phone provider and presenting it as their final project. I've had service from Virgin Mobile for at least a year now, and since day one of my service, they've offered what they call Rescue Rings. Let's see how Virgin Mobile describes the service they offer shall we?

Don't be a weasel, have us do it for you. We call and you get to bail.
We've all been there. Stuck in a nightmare blind date, meeting, class, or conversation with no way out. We've got your back. Just set up a Rescue Ring for a pre-determined time and your phone will ring. Pretend to have a conversation and take it from there.
Hmm, the only major difference I can see is that VM touts their service as an interactively telecommunicative way of being an insensitive dick, whereas PD prides itself on being able to offer you the value added option of allowing you to be a self important prick with the same service. And it's free, bonus!

Well, it's free for the first five calls at least. Seems our two enterprising young, grad students are currently paying for this service all out of pocket while they seek sponsors to defray costs. Hmm, wow, no, this doesn't seem familiar at all. Nope, doesn't remind me one bit of ridiculous fly-by night ideas funded by speculative and mostly tech-ignorant venture capitalists. It does sort of smell familar though...wait,hmm, what is it?


Ah yep, that's what I thought. To quote Penn Jillette, to me it smells a lot like bullshit...



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