Setting out to do good or setting out to do something else and ending up doing good?

Another was a broader lesson about the nature of do-gooder ventures. \”One of the things I realized . . . is how few success stories there are in websites or products or businesses that exist primarily for an altruistic purpose. Most of the time, the things that really change the world exist for something fundamentally selfish and then the world-changing ends up being a side-effect of that. Whether its Facebook, Flickr, YouTube or Twitter, all those things have made the world better by the way that they allow people to share information. But that\’s not why they were created. It was so they could share pictures and videos of scantily clad women or kittens or whatever. And Groupon\’s the same way. And it caught me by surprise.\”

10 thoughts on “Setting out to do good or setting out to do something else and ending up doing good?”

  1. Which is compatible with noting how few (not none) websites or products or businesses exist primarily for an altruistic purpose.

  2. Aye, but it’s an important one which has changed the way people look for information, and which there’s no sensible way of monetizing or reason to set up as a commercial site, given how little ad revenue you get from undifferentiated search engine hits.

    FB was set up primarily to get Mark Zuckerberg laid. Flickr was invented by mistake (the technology came out of a computer game the developers were making, but they realised it would work as a cool thing on the side – there was never any expectation of serious revenue).

    The interesting thing to me is how rare it is for game-changing internet ventures to be developed deliberately, whether the aim’s to change the world or to make a billion dollars. Generally, the deliberate “this will make billions of dollars and change the world” plans are the ones that fail miserably, like everything Microsoft and News Corporation have done online.

  3. “The interesting thing to me is how rare it is for game-changing internet ventures to be developed deliberately”: aye, planning is pretty crap. Should we tell the socialists?

  4. Hi Tim,

    It looks as if I have some kind of abridged version. The copy I received this morning, but my copy has only 116 pages. The listing says this book has 468 pages.

    Also, the front page is subtitled `How the Green Agenda Defeats Its Aims’ where the listing says `Economic Myths, Environmental Facts’.

    The publisher’s website has the same subtitle as mine but the listing there says this book has 468 pages.

    Are there two versions of this book?

  5. Sorry folks, my post should have read:

    Hi Tim,

    It looks as if I have some kind of abridged version. The copy I received this morning has only 116 pages. The listing says this book has 468 pages.

    Also, the front page is subtitled `How the Green Agenda Defeats Its Aims’ where the listing says `Economic Myths, Environmental Facts’.

    The publisher’s website has the same subtitle as mine but the listing there says this book has 468 pages.

    Are there two versions of this book?

  6. Is there such a sharp divide between egoism and altruism? I may have a product or service that I know will benefit humanity (altruism) and yet also want to make a profit providing it (egoism). Altruistically enlightened self-interest is a wonderful thing. Only socialists imagine there’s any contradiction there. Many of the most altruistic people I have known are business people; and some of the most selfish are left-leaning voters who feel that high taxation somehow compensates society for their own egoism and indifference to others.

  7. “Is there such a sharp divide between egoism and altruism?”

    Yep.

    Let’s make a list of historical altruists:

    Hitler
    Mao Tse Tung
    Pol Pot
    Torquemada
    Lenin
    Guevara
    The entire ‘comité de salut public’,Paris,1793

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