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Stopping the Internet’s rush to judgment on everything

With Google+, Google dropped a boulder into the still waters of the Internet and created some serious ripples this week. So you know, this is not a review of Google+. I am experimenting with it but have not done nearly enough with it to form a credible opinion.

As a result, I will be keeping my mouth shut on this one, and here’s why.

You see, the Internet doesn’t need another under-informed industry type (in this case that would be me) crying out in a loud voice about something that is not only brand new but is also promoted as a project to be rolled out under a program called rolling thunder by Google. In fact, this ridiculous race to review has got to end, and here’s how I propose it happens.

First, there needs to be a healthy dose of patience. As I finished that last sentence I already realize that my plan is destined for failure, since the Internet space already has none and will not have the patience to develop any, well, patience. But I will slog through this idea regardless because I also believe that one can dream!

So back to patience. Rather than trying to be the first open one’s mouth about the latest and greatest gadget / service / whatever I propose that intelligent people self-impose a 7-day (it should be longer really but I have to have some chance of sounding realistic here) moratorium on writing any reviews on new gadgets and services. This will allow people to actually use the new gadget or service in a way that reflects real life rather than just doing the equivalent of cramming for an exam and staying up all night playing immediately following a release.

You see, I don’t respect most people’s initial opinions about any of these new rollouts like Google+. I respect a few (I’ll say 3) but I won’t tell them who they are because I want them to keep doing what they do without thinking they have won me over just yet. In fact, I would make these people exempt from this system but that’s another post for another time.

So, why don’t I respect most of these early opinionators? It’s because they are only doing it (reviewing something prematurely) so they can play the “I was first!” card. That my friends, is no way to determine whether a reviewer is actually smart or not. Being first just shows you are fast and usually nothing else (other than the fact that you are not well-informed).

From now on if you review something inside the 7-day “try this for real before you pass judgment” window automatically gets called out as a premature opinionator. We need to use an unsavory term that implies something else in order to get most knuckleheaded opinionators to even consider this plan. I think we accomplish that with this one.

So what’s the penalty for breaking the 7-day cone of silence for new Internet products and services? You are vanquished to only play on part of the social graph. That part is MySpace. Could there be anymore cruel fate than that?

The next step is to never use the term (fill in the competition’s name here) killer. It’s spent. It’s useless. It’s a phrase rendered impotent (are you sensing a theme here?) by the clamoring masses to try to bury any successful Internet business that happened prior to the most current “service du jour.”

If you use that term it’s off to MySpace for you! (Please feel free to use your best Seinfeldian Soup Nazi impression for that last bit).

The next step after this is to have a lottery system that 500 or so media outlets are involved in to determine the order of presentation of these somewhat delayed yet much more intelligent reviews are rolled out to the Internet marketing industry. This process will be audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers because it sounds very official.

Notice that these initial reviews will only go out to the Internet marketing industry? Why? Well, we need to put this kind of news in front of the only group on the planet that will care like this is akin to global warming and a nuclear winter.

Now that the review cat is out of the bag we allow these findings to go out to the general public but they will carry a disclaimer much like a pack of smokes does. The disclaimer would read something like this:

The following review was generated by a person who has a high likelihood of over- the-top geekiness in combination with such low self-esteem that they will likely say anything just so anyone will pay attention to them for more than 5 seconds. Apply at your own risk.

You see how this is working? We are now moving further and further away from the insiders of the industry so when the regular joes of the world finally get a chance to see the latest wonder that someone from Silicon Valley has bestowed upon mankind, they have a fighting chance to understand what is being said.

The rollout of these opinions will take about 2-4 weeks, which will be just enough time for actual users to get their hands dirty with the new product / service. During this period we invoke and strictly enforce the Internet industry silent period, where no one can write anything more about the service for another month. If they dare break this silent period, a fate awaits them that is even worse than those exiled to MySpace. They are confined to an inbox that receives PR pitches from around the Internet for things that no one will ever care about. It’s like being in the media’s lake of fire where there will forever be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Now we are 5 weeks or so into the life of this new product or service, and something magical has happened. Those who are genuinely interested have been able to form their own opinions about the service or product. As a result, we have a populace that has not been completely influenced by another’s opinion before they had the chance to try the service on for size. They can then draw conclusions that more closely resemble that of a free person who is not the mere puppet of someone who tried to be the first into his or her head to stake claim to their opinion center.

I know this is a fantasy and it will never happen, but I think that we all need to slow down and do something that the Internet once encouraged: independent thinking and drawing our own conclusions. I think that rather than having our opinions made for us before we even have a chance to get our hands on something, we need to have the chance to experience and process things for ourselves.

Sounds awful old school doesn’t it? Guilty as charged and darn proud of it!

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