Worst Website Ever, Redux

Yesterday’s Worst Website Ever session was standing-room only and judging from the response, it was a hit.

Once I can get a copy of the audio from the talk, I’ll upload a screencast of the entire session with the original slides. Until then, here are the descriptions of each pitch.

Jeffery Bennett, Image Search for the Blind

Image search is fundamentally broken, only allowing sighted people to use it for entertainment and research. But what about those who can’t see? Jeffery shows how harnessing the collective vision of users can describe and annotate images for use by the blind.

Michael Buffington, Pressca.st

Bloggers have been used as a powerful promotional tool, but finding bloggers willing to sell themselves out for cash takes too long! Michael demonstrates a better way that combines the worst of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and PayPerPost. Upload your press release, deposit funds with Paypal, and Turkers around the globe will instantly blog about your crappy product for pennies on the dollar. Evil!

Ben Brown & Katie Spence, Happy Net Box

Facebook broke new ground in allowing developers to create applications for their website, and the OpenSocial effort took it to the next level by allowing anyone to embed applications anywhere. Ben & Katie propose a groundbreaking new open platform: allowing developers to embed the entire Internet in your webpage with a single line of code. Don’t settle for a single application — embed the whole damn thing.

David Friedman, PeopleIPO

Take yourself public with an Individual Public Offering through PeopleIPO, allowing anyone to buy or sell shares in you! Watch as your personal life events affect your stock price, but be careful not to sell a majority stake in yourself — or you might become a slave to your shareholders.

Lia Bulaong, Sickr

The social network for contagious diseases, where online communities go viral. See who’s spread chlamydia, clap, or the common cold to their social network using a convenient Facebook badge, or just try to get to the top of the leaderboard with poor hygiene and/or risky sex. Fun for the whole family!

Merlin Mann, FlockdUp

FlockdUp.com is a best-of-breed hosted solution for networking Thought Leaders. Our Enterprise-class suite of tools empowers Topic Experts, Blog Consultants, Marketing Minds, and Social Mediapreneurs to tag, profile, remix, mash-up, *and* monetize every person that they know (or claim to know — we’re not here to judge). We understand that your career is hard to explain, and most people wouldn’t understand it anyway. That’s why FlockdUp does the heavy lifting with robust, integrated applications for connecting you directly to the thousands of enterprising mavericks whose email addresses you’ve collected. That’s right: Leading with Thoughts(tm). Sign-up today for very limited, private pre-Alpha at FlockdUp.com.

Lane Becker, MMOmmerce

The next generation of shopping, from the comfort of your very own fully immersive fantasy universe. Think Kozmo meets World of Warcraft: from clicks and mortar to clicks and Mordor, rampant consumerism becomes rampaging consumerism. All without leaving your desk!

The winner, as decided by guest VC/judge David Hornik, was Merlin Mann’s FlockdUp, followed closely by Jeffery Bennett’s Image Search for the Blind. Here’s a video of Merlin’s talk, courtesy of Roo Reynolds. Thank you so much to all the presenters and everybody who attended.

April 15: Jeffery Bennett’s footage from the audience is now available on Vimeo. I’m waiting for the official podcast audio from SXSW, and I’ll edit together a presentation with the original slides.

8 thoughts on “Worst Website Ever, Redux

  1. I don’t understand: these all look like fake satirical ideas except for Presscast, which seems like a real service. I don’t get why one real, though crappy, business made it onto a list of jokes.

    One criticism: this seems like a panel of internet insiders (Ben Brown ftw, naturally) exposing just how un-self-critical the industry is these days. The whole premise–gentle mockery of awfully easy targets–is really less about criticism than about a group of cool kids circling the wagons by riffing on the fun ways they thought of making money three or four years ago.

    I know there’s a time and place for this (and christ, if that time and place ain’t SXSW then I don’t know what would be), but this stuff has worn so very very thin.

  2. David: It wasn’t intended to be deep. It was a way of entertaining a room full of geeks before we started drinking. Everybody that I’ve seen who actually attended (except Valleywag) said it was the best session they’d seen, everybody had a great time, and I’m pretty happy with that.

    As for Pressca.st, it’s Michael Buffington’s form of Andy Kaufman-esque humor. Not everyone gets it, but I think it’s brilliant and scary.

  3. I’m with David on this one, Andy. The session was entertaining, indeed, but I was expecting plausible ideas from the presenters — ideas that may have had legitimate potential, if not for their poor execution, lack of proper planning, et cetera. My coworker described it as an hour-long SNL sketch, and I don’t think he was all that far off. We weren’t expecting deep, but we were certainly expecting something instructive or of value — sort of a learn-from-these-people’s-mistakes scenario — and instead it felt like a lot of back-slapping and inside jokes. In other words, no offense intended, it felt like a waste of my time.

  4. Thanks for the feedback. It’s funny, I originally intended to include a conclusion that discussed how every one of the ideas was plausible, if only they were slightly tweaked. I think it’s fair to say that ideas like Image Search for the Blind, PeopleIPO, MMOmmerce, and Sickr could all be viable. Happy Net Box was baked a few years ago as Bitty Browser (Ben and Katie hadn’t heard of it). Pressca.st works more as a cautionary tale; just because you can do something with existing technology, doesn’t mean you should. Merlin Mann’s was the only one that wasn’t a real idea, but more a parody of the form.

    I’m sorry you didn’t get much out of it.

  5. jg, you’re kidding, right? you’ve got to be kidding. please, please tell me you’re kidding, or i’m going to start crying.

    on a completely unrelated note: hornik has privately admitted to me that i would’ve been #2 if jeffrey hadn’t back-handed him a $50 right before we got started. he’s a vc — is there *anything* he won’t do for money? what is this world coming to?

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