Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bubble 2.0 / Web 2.0 Workers Happily Exploited?

I heard money is raining again in Silicon Valley.

They say the drivers are: ubiquitous broadband, cheap hardware, and open-source software. "The Web is mutating into a radically different beast than it has been. And that is leading to the creation of entirely new kinds of companies, new business models, and oceans of new opportunity" write Erick Schonfeld, Om Malik, and Michael V. Copeland in CNN Money.

I loved to ride the Bubble 1.0 - I really wish I'll make it this time too - not for the money, but for the pure joy of surf. We have been brainstorming with the XFetch team (my current tech-company) with different business models and mashups but found nothing yet that would really work as a scalable business.
But we have found something!

Moneywise, I guess, the best idea this far has been the idea of combining the Amazon Mechanical Turk with a virtual farm of slaves. Because I think there is really something revolutionary in that idea, let me explain it a little.

Check the prices in the picture below. The prices are in Linden Dollars - a money used in a virtual world called Second Life. The customer pays in Linden dollars he has bought with real money. The Club owner takes his part, the Linden Lab gets their part, and - maybe - this is, afterall, cyber-capitalism! - the virtual escort gets her part as well.

Two years ago there was a discussion on the Second Life Herald Forums where the Club owner and some cyber escorts and their customers discussed about exploitation and the ethics of employing cyber escorts. "How is it possible to "exploit" these cyber escorts ( kind of sex slaves, thus) if the slave can always log-out and walk away (i.e. sign out from the computer game!) any time he/she wants to", asked the employer.

As Amazon Mechanical Turk's or Deveraux & Deloitte's idea of "Artificial Artificial Intelligence" shows us, we will see in the next coming years how a new era of cyber globalization starts to change the service sector, the biggest segment of the national economies of developed countries.
The offshore contact centers were only the first beginning.

Web 1.0 enterprise software and B2B-applications were the drivers blowing air into the Bubble 1.0. This time it will be a lot bigger. Bubble 2.0 will get it's energy from one billion anonymous users of web applications that look like games or handy free tools, but are in fact elements in huge virtual money making machines exploiting global labour in a new way.
I personally have been a Mechanical Turk employee (or slave) two weeks now and have earned $0.05. I used to work for Google AdSense Farm where I earned a little more but lost everything. They never paid me anything because they kicked me out before my first pay day. I have tried to enroll into Deveraux & Deloitte but without luck this far.

There are some things that are similar in these web 2.0 jobs. In both cases all I need is ubiquitous broadband, cheap hardware, and open-source software (i.e. Mozilla web-browser). In both cases I can walk in and start "earning" in 5-10 minutes where ever I am located. In both cases I get paid but this money flows not under the control of the tax officials of closed nation states but through global pipes completely out of the reach of the labour unions, labour market norms and rules and other socialdemocratic welfare structures.

Here is a free investor forecast and advise! The investors who invest in this megatrend will be sure winners. The Bubble 2.0 will not blow out but will grow and grow and grow - the real driver behind it being web 2.0 jobs!

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