Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

July 09, 2007 Yesterday's YouTube?

On the World Wide Web, timing is everything. You can have the greatest idea under the sun, but unless the infrastructure supports it, or the ephemeral, irrational memes of the electrosphere conspire to proclaim it "cool," or some other exogenous factor (perhaps Microsoft) decides to kill it, it will fail, and wind up in the Museum of Interactive Failure.

You can hire all the futurist consultants in the world and still fail, because these consultants and brand gurus really aren't futurists at all, but guys who are simply great salesmen. You can plan, plan, plan, and execute, execute, execute, and still fail because your project is either too far ahead or too far behind the zeitgeist of the time.

Case in point:, a site which accurately tailored its content to the lowest demoninator, identified its demographic with drop-dead accuracy (young males of below average intelligence, of which there are many), got great press, was well-financed, and failed in 2001. YouTube took many of these same elements and made itself a success years later by wisely refusing to inject its own editorial sensibilities into the dopey content stream. (Note: not all content on is crap, but most of it is).

Reality is non-linear and fate is cruel. If some butterfly hadn't flapped its wings in Indonesia, we'd all be living in a world where ruled the Web's content, was acquired by Google, and Tim Nye would be closing a purchase on a $250 million house in Palo Alto. But history isn't like that, and is just another failed effort in a long line of failed efforts that reach back to and beyond.

VC money isn't enough. Brains isn't enough. The best business plan in the world isn't enough. Unless you've got timing, you can do everything right and still wind up as another broken, angry guy in Palookaville, which is another way of saying that you should never rule out the role of dumb luck in creating today's interactive millionaires.

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