Went to a sort of job interview this afternoon. A businessman's secretary wrote me inviting me to the appointment, responding to my response to some forgotten advertisement seen month's ago.
It turns out that this man, about 45 years old, is in the property buying and selling and developing business. Once had ten offices all around Budapest, last year fired 300 employees, shut down all but one office over by the opera house. He does internet marketing, making web sites with so called "content" that he buys for 2 dollars a (1500 word) 5 page article, about old pipes, about garage door openers...; he has 30 "content" filled sites. Each site has advertisements for companies selling the product that is the subject of the "content". The idea is to trick Google into being a free advertising service by sending people doing searches to the sites with the $2 content. He asked if I wanted to "improve" such content for the English speaking market. I said I didn't want to.
Then he told me about another business, in partnership with the American businessman who owns big time dating sites. They are developing a site something like (not the actual name) YouDisease.com, a social network for people with diseases. There will be a collection of research information for the users. It is being made now. But there would be another part of the site, the main part, that would be a social network for sick people.
This is not a joke. The business plan: get together in one place a group of sick people and profit from, actually sell every word they say to each other, like Facebook, Google, Yahoo. Where do I come in? The chicken and the egg problem. To get people to write in their stories, there have to be stories by other people already there. You want me to find the stories? Yes, and edit them, set a cheerful, playful tone. Can you do that?
So this is a Twitter or Facebook of disease. Wasn't there already something like it? I ask, afraid to hear the answer. Yes, but not good, not successful. This one is going to be fully interactive. A million dollar investment. Infrastructure maintenance alone is $20,000 to $30,000 a month. Is this a profit making venture, or what? I ask. No, that's not their interest, not primarily. They want to get it going. Then do an IPO, initial public offering, get some money. A few million. That would be enough.
Am I interested?
I think about it. Profit from disease? Every physician does that. Profiting from a social network of disease? That didn't necessarily mean the social connections themselves were diseased. Then what was the problem? Home pages, messaging, friend lists? It could be done creatively, could help people.
I was on my way walking to CEU while I thought this over. The CEU is billionaire ($27B) George Soros' personally funded university here in Budapest. A great charity, hundreds of millions of dollars put into it. But is it good?
Thousands of students get educated who otherwise might not have been. But where did the money come from? Soros speculated in currencies. Every dollar he made, someone else lost. Soros produced nothing, and caused huge losses to others. And that is not the worst of it. He thinks of himself as a "failed philosopher". When he was young he felt a call to philosophy he didn't follow. Instead he wrote books developing a philosophy of speculation, where everyone in a crowd follows everyone else, optimistic of making a profit, then in reaction and compensation, reality for unreality, everyone follows everyone else in fear of loss. A view of life entirely dependent on mass behavior, fear and delusion, that is, dependent on the worst in human beings.
When I asked Soros to support the protest movement that wanted to end unregulated speculation, like the kind he does, he gave a very interesting answer. He was on record, he said, sympathizing with the sufferings of the people. But in his stampede philosophy order creates order, disorder creates disorder, and if the protests create disorder they were dangerous and he could not approve.
I don't know these internet people and I don't know Soros. But it looks like they are alike in making money out of the worst in us, paying people slave wages to steal from others paid slave wages, profiting from other people's loss, then doing something seemingly good to make themselves feel better. Maybe the new educational and internet institutions actually make the world better, maybe just make the world a more orderly place to go on making money out of the worst in us in. Control the stampede of the crowd, but keep the crowd psychology and use it to collect more riches for yourself.
The internet guys' business was a disease, cheating their employees and cheating Google, and their new site was about disease. Exactly like Soros and his University. Exactly. Soros does a lot of damage, then endows an institution where people learn to talk about what's endangering the world. All these guys do sick things then set up institutions where people talk about being sick.
If social media, educational institutions are just forms, are neutral, then the people setting them up set the tone. The mood and atmosphere of the CEU is grim, determined and ugly. The University is focused on politics, in other words, disease. Since greed established Facebook, Twitter, and now this new Disease network, what good can be expected?
Speculation concentrates wealth in the hands of the worst people among us, who've made a study of the worst there is in us. One day soon a few will have all the wealth, and you and everyone else nothing but talking about your disease.