A Young Lawyer's Perspectivo
Prefatory Note: I am redacting names very heavily and the emails I received as these people seem very nice and well intentioned.
I like to write, and have been doing quite a bit at Fault Lines lately. The team there has put up with my jackassery and prompted me to write about real issues that matter to real people and make a real difference in the world.
Some time ago I posted that this would be a place where I discussed more personal matters. One such matter occurred January 21, when I received the following email from a marketer
My name is [redacted] and I represent Perspectivo - a cool new startup that's about to bring something different to the masses – access to other's experience. We have been searching for people with interesting content online and we decided to reach out to you. We’ll only email you this one time.
In our vision Perspectivo will be a place for people to discover new possibilities and solutions to any dream, goal or challenge they are having based on the experience and wisdom of those who have “Been There, Done That”.
At this stage, Perspectivo is only open to a selected few, but soon, it will be open to the world. The advantage of being an early participant is that you will receive a head start in gaining recognition and targeted traffic as the site gains popularity. But equally important is the fact that you will help others who will put your experience to good use.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Head scratchingly, the last line of the email had an address for the company, said that I was only getting one email from them, and that I could “unsubscribe” by clicking on a link. There were no numbers, no corporate offices, and nothing listed that could be reasonably described as a point of contact other than email.
This raised my eyebrows enough to go one step further. I emailed the marketer back.
Who are you and how did you find me?
What is the purpose of your company? What are you asking of my time?
In the future, please call my office if you'd like to discuss things further.
I began searching. They had a day old Facebook page with links to other sites and their content. They had numerous people getting the same emails, wondering if this was legit. The address attached to the email wasn’t a corporate office, and they had no phone number anywhere listed. A WHOIS search had the site’s contacts set to private. Absent further information, I twitted I thought this a scam.
That twit prompted the following late night response from the marketer.
Earlier this summer we searched the web for artists, journalists, bloggers, authors, entrepreneurs, and academics. We really feel like these types of people are the best kind to invite to view our site! We mostly used Google and Twitter to build our list. During that time I believe we found you on Twitter and then took a look at your site.
Anyway, our intention is to simply invite you to see our site and (if you like it) contribute to it. Let me know if I can answer any other questions or provide any assistance with the site. I've marked it down that we will not email after this message.
I think I upset the marketer’s bosses, as I got an email from one of the higher ups.
I am the [redacted] for Perspectivo….Perspectivo is a site where people can share their goals, insights, and wisdom freely with each other. We are in a closed beta right now and that's why a person cannot easily get into the site.
Earlier this summer we searched the web for artists, journalists, bloggers, authors, writers, entrepreneurs, and academics. We really feel like these types of people are the best kind to invite to view our site. During that time I believe we found you on Twitter and then took a look at your site. So, please see the email we sent to you as an invitation to view our site, nothing more…
We have already quite a few users and very soon we are going live so anyone will be able to sign-in.
If I can answer any other questions for you, I'm happy to; just let me know.
I asked several questions. I looked at the site. I got my questions answered. These are good people with great intentions attempting to change the world through a horrible idea, and I wouldn’t recommend any attorney or professional to get on board.
The concept is simple: allow people to reach goals through a combination of expert and “crowd wisdom.” One asks a question, such as “How do I get a new job?” People then outline sub-questions concerning that goal and post links to things they feel are answers to achieve the sub questions that are part of the overarching “goal.”
This “cuts to the chase” concerning reaching said goal and “prevents inane discussions.”
The potential for abuse on this platform is mind-boggling. For example, if someone posts “How do I get divorced?” there’s no knowledge base of which to provide someone information that speaks from a place of credibility. It’s a measure of anyone and everyone being able to post links to things they THINK might help, but aren’t sure will help. Worse, it carries the potential to provide the wrong information, which means that when the potential divorcee gets to the door of an attorney damage is long since done.
Same applies to criminal law. If someone asks the question “What do I do about the theft charge I got last week?” then links to websites aren’t going to help much.
Both are the equivalent of asking your Aunt Mabel who got divorced and a cellmate with the same charge respectively what to do regarding your personal situation. It’s your case, not theirs, and that’s why you can’t rely on “crowd wisdom” to achieve an answer.
There’s also no personal vetting process. People can sign in with usernames, and post just as much information as they deem necessary. Therefore, the “been there, done that” approach doesn’t even carry that much gravitas on this platform. Anyone can buy a keyboard, and anyone can post a link to a site, even if it’s dead wrong.
Finally, the platform is ripe for abuse. One wonders how long it would take an admin to remove “How do I get Ethel Merman, that idiot lady who destroyed my hedge, fired from her job at the FedEx store?” I’m thinking specifically of Peeple when I mention this, and holy moley their founders didn’t learn the lesson the first time when told it was a Very Bad Idea.
This is a platform for information, without the proper understanding and context of the information provided. It’s a Facebook discussion forum without the ability to type in capital letters and blame Obama or the Globalist Conspiracy. This is where you have the potential to provide that toxic combination Scott Greenfield calls “ignorant and certain.” The party, as a result of their access to the “Perspectivos” of others, is wrong, but they believe so strongly they can’t be told otherwise.
And it’s all digestible in eight second bits, which can cause problems in ways people don’t expect.
Startups are great. I wish Perspectivo well in their future endeavors. The problem comes when the “cool idea” you want to monetize isn’t thought through completely with all the ramifications it could contain.
That’s when you go under and the investors want their money back.