At yesterday's launch event for Airtime, Sean Parker noted the Internet has gotten boring, repeating a variation on the same SoMoLo (Silicon Valley speak for social, mobile, local) theme over and over and over again — and then he launched something that looks like the rest of the Internet. At this point, things have gotten so mind-numbing that we can't tell the difference between parody and reality and "innovations" spoofing this predictable cycle get taken seriously, The Wall Street Journal Geoffrey A. Fowler and Amir Efrati note. We're living in some sort of bizarro Internet world, where newer adaptations of the same old thing often sound as absurd as a joke, and the jokes sound real enough to get taken seriously. The spoofs aren't even funny anymore.
Take Jotly, for example, the first app Fowler and Efrati mention in their piece. It started as a play on the burgeoning app-rating trend. Take a look at the original promotional video, the app rates playground slides and beer bottles in sketchy lots -- it's a total joke.
But Silicon Valley read the joke as a good idea. Jotly now has legitimate Silicon Valley backers and the app was released on iTunes last December.
This stuff gets taken seriously because we're running out of ways to vary the SoMoLo theme. One either has to go super meta, like our Jotly folks, who now have a 2.0 in the works, which is so "frictionless" it works on its own, rating a person doing things. Or, a developer can take apps to places we never thought we wanted them. Like, the bathroom. Fowler and Efrati mention iPoo and Cloo, two actual, for-real restroom-centric apps. If we're resorting to poo apps, it's safe to say we've reached peak SoMoLo. Time to move on.
Beyond making Internet land boring, though, this unoriginality does not bode well for Silicon Valley's future. Even the king of the social Internet, Facebook, has had a hard time proving its value, meaning that little pooing app will have an even harder time. This idea, too, has become a joke, with a recent McSweeney's article parodying the proposed value of these valueless carbon-copies in the post Prospectus for Silicon Valley’s Next Hot Tech IPO, Where Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong. "Ponzify isn’t like other tech companies," writes John Flowers. But, here's the joke: It is exactly like other tech companies. This parody, like the apps, if read anywhere but McSweeney's could be a real tech company prospectus. And that's why Silicon Valley has gotten so boring. The jokes aren't just for laughs anymore, they're reality.