Truth is out of style

Robert X. Cringely would like us all to know that what the business world needs is more bullshit.

Apparently he's very impressed with some Indian entrepeneur - I think he's called Sumantra Roy - who is making tons of money, thusly:

1: Figure out that there seems to be a market, "older women stuck with (or thinking about getting) naughty parrots", to whom could be sold an expensive e-book of information about these creatures.

2: Realise that you don't know a thing about parrots.

3: Buy some books about parrots.

4: Realise that you don't know a thing about writing, either.

5: Hire some guy to read the parrot books and make you an all-new parrot e-book of your own, which you can sell to the abovementioned middle-aged ladies.

6: Make one of those God-awful mile-long CLICK HERE YOU IDIOT marketing Web pages [which, thanks to a commenter below, I now know is called a "squeeze page"], full of BIG TEXT and dodgy testimonials. Including one testimonial that goes on and on, from the supposed source of the info in the e-book. This supposed source is called "Nathalie Roberts", and she has a friend called "Wayne" who had a parrot called "Polygon". Nathalie has twelve years of "school of hard knocks" knowledge about parrot care and training!


7: Profit!

7b (optional, and inadvisable): Cheerfully admit to Cringely that Nathalie Roberts does not exist, and all that "experience" was just slapped together from four parrot books by some work-for-hire guy who sure as hell ain't gettin' a cut of your (alleged) hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

8: Get presented by Cringely as the kind of go-getting entrepeneur that the world needs more of. I mean, if anybody refused to do this sort of thing because of "ethics" or "morals" or any shit like that, they must be standing on, to quote Rob, an "egalitarian soap box".

The fake Nathalie Roberts is, Cringely says, "like Betty Crocker". You all remember when Betty was presented as a real human being who personally baked all of General Mills' products, right? Yeah, me too!

And anyway, Cringely reckons that all this stuff must be A-OK, because "I have yet to find people bitching and moaning on the Internet about being cheated by Parrotsecrets".

The Internet, Cringely kindly explains, provides us all with a "remarkable self-policing system of commerce". I presume that this explains why things like, I don't know, the standard ads you see next to a Google search, are so wonderfully scam-free.

So there y'go, guys! A product being sold to middle-aged women doesn't have a tide of complaints about it on the Web - so it must be kosher! Every Internet discussion board, as we all know, is just packed with women called Mildred who were born in 1952 - so obviously there cannot possibly be a problem with this product!

The absence of complaints could not possibly have anything whatsoever to do with the rather small intersection of the two sets,

A: Everybody, young or old, who has enough familiarity with the Web to be able to find a place to complain about a dud product where casual Googling will find the complaint, and

B: People who do not automatically categorise any single Web page with many different sizes and colours of text, that you have to page-down 28 times to get to the end of, and which is trying to sell you something, as a scam.

But all of this is a little academic, because right after Cringely said that, a commenter found this site. It's what you might call a... portal page... leading to rather a lot of complaints about Sumantra Roy and his numerous ventures.

Apparently Roy's got a bunch of other similar animal-related sites (which makes his total alleged income a bit more plausible), on which he's followed the same formula of making up someone who supposedly wrote a book and so on and so forth. And he's got a finger in the "Search-Engine Optimisation" pie as well, and... oh, it's all too horrible.

About the best argument anybody in the Cringely post's comments can come up with in favour of this "entrepeneur" is "OK, it's bullshit, but all marketing is bullshit, man!"

Well, OK, yeah. Coke won't really make you young and popular, Bernie Madoff never really made any trades, and those AAA-rated structured investments were all actually worthless. And whenever a financial crisis comes along, there are indeed always spivs who stand ready to find people in trouble and take away even that which they hath.

And apparently, because that's normal, it's also OK!

So get with the program, you unemployed layabouts! Get yourself on the winning team! There can never be enough middle-men, and truth is out of style!

10 Responses to “Truth is out of style”

  1. Malcolm Says:

    All I can say is... Amen, brother.

    And barely a week goes by when the phrase "B-Ark" doesn't run through my mind.

    I had to stop reading Cringely a year or two ago. The man's output has definitely been devolving. The stories of Silicon Valley's heyday were much more entertaining.

  2. Cabdude Says:

    This would be the same Bob Cringely who, when working for the original Apple startup, insisted on being paid in cash rather than stock.

  3. mai9 Says:

    OMG! It's the first time I visit and I've "been chosen to receive a special discount!"

    Now I can get the "Amazing New Parrot Training Course" for as low as $40 instead of the usual $80.

  4. iworm Says:

    On the Contact page of that site it refers to "...our Explosive New Parrot Training System..."

    Now that is something I would pay money to see. Exploding parrots.

  5. reyalp Says:

    For some reason this comes to mind. I suppose Mr Cringely would say we need more great entrepreneurs like the pet shop owner ;)

  6. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    You forgot to ask for money.

  7. Toejam Says:

    Ugh! That "ParrotSecrets" page brought back unpleasant memories of a previous web development job of mine (that I was only too happy to be able to walk away from!).

    A squeeze page by any other name is still a scam. I'm surprised they're not using purple buttons...

  8. Silverxxx Says:

    Is this the same R. Cringley that claimed to have a Stanford PhD that he actually didn't?

  9. j Says:

    Stephens told a reporter: "[A] new fact has now become painfully clear to me: you don't say you have the Ph.D unless you REALLY have the Ph.D."

    Yeh, how about that?
    You can't make up data for a scientific report either?

    What is the world coming to when journalists are expected to be accountable and accurate!

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