The great bloggers at Marginal Revolution have a running theme called "markets in everything", with very interesting posts. A recent post linked to a site that would help owners of gas-guzzling SUVs reduce their guilt. Another one links to a site that helps people overcome their addiction to porn.
But I want to talk about a startup venture that marries outsourcing (to China!) and blogging in an interesting way [the MR link is here]. Let us just call it Outsource-Blogging-to-China (OBC) Inc. The business model of OBC has two tiers:
... The first tier is to create original blogs. These blogs will pop up in various areas of the net and appear to the unknowing reader to be written by your standard American. Our short term goal for these original blogs is to generate a steady stream of revenue through traditional blog advertising like google adwords. We estimate that our current blogforce of 25 can support around 500 unrelated blogs. Hopefully a few of those will be hits. The long term goal is to generate a large untraceable astroturfing mechanism for launching of various products. When a vendor needs to promote a new product to the internet demographic we will be able to create a believable buzz across hundreds of ‘reputable’ blogs and countless message boards. We can offer a legitimacy to advertisers that doesen’t exist anywhere else.
The second tier of our plan is a blog vacation service where our employees fill in for established bloggers who need to take a break from regular posting. As all bloggers know, an unupdated blog is quickly forgotten. For a nominal fee we can provide seamless integration of filler.
Markets in everything, indeed!
The post goes on to discuss the ethics of OBC's business, too! This post also got the following in the very first comment: "you should probably save a little of the seed money for one of those fire suits. ... i hear it gets hot in hell".
From another post in the OBC blog (it is not clear if this one is genuine, though), it appears that several blogs are already underway; one of them is "a blog about life as a math professor in a southern community college", and another is a weatherman's. The Chairman of the venture says:
... you would be amazed how good this stuff is. Our most talented guy keeps writing about how the weatherman got his forecast wrong and is sad. We are also considering the ethical ramifications of having one of our faux-bloggers get wrongfully accused of murder.
Looks like a hoax is being unleashed ;-)