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is web 2.0 a pyramid scheme? and introducing my assistant

By August 15, 2008August 16th, 2008Marketing, News

Is Web 2.0 a Pyramid Scheme?

I had a very interesting meeting with a talented Vineyard artist this week. And I was explaining life on the web and the concept of broadcasting to your network (Twitter, Facebook, other blogs, your blog) and how your network will tell their networks and on and on – viral, word of mouth, relationship marketing. He looked right at me and said, ‘So it’s kind of like a pyramid scheme.’ I nearly fell off my chair.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since – rather obsessively and a bit defensively. I mean, it isn’t anything like a pyramid scheme. But there are some parallels. Right? For instance, if I imagine myself at the top of a, um, triangle, I reach out to my 5 networks below, then each of them reach out to their 5 networks, then each of them reach out to their 5 networks…it broadens as it goes. I see his point.

But the Web 2.0 marketing I do isn’t sleazy. Oops, did I just say that out loud? Me and my big mouth. But the way some people do it is sleazy – which may, in the end, lend itself to being scene as a pyramid scheme. Interesting, very interesting. Your thoughts?

And, now, after millions, hundreds, quite a few requests, I’m pleased to introduce…

My dog assistant. His name is Silas, he’s an American Field Lab, he’s 5 1/2 years old, he acts like he’s 5 1/2 months old. He believes truly and firmly that he is a lap dog…and that he rules the universe. He is the funniest dog I’ve ever met. And he insisted that I let him wear the Super Silas cape. His nickname is Merpikulis, though his best friend – my 2 year-old daughter, Sophie – calls him Siley and Merpikey.


He thinks he is a guru which explains why he’s on a yoga mat in this picture. I am delighted that he nearly knocks me over in a valiant and selfish way every morning in order to get past me, and then be first to get to the office. I love it when he lays his head on my feet and sleeps while I work.

His paws smell like Fritos and his head smells like an oatmeal cookie. His ears were put on crooked, so one lays back a bit, while the other has a tighter fold. His nose is pink – and my mom thinks that it isn’t sewn down all the way around. He has an over active tongue that earned him yet another nickname – Licky McSmooch.

He has an older canine sister named Baloula who is 1/2 golden, 1/2 lab and has 15 lbs on him. And he will go to any length to knock her out of the way if she is getting attention from any human. He also cleans her ears, eyes and face daily, gently and meticulously.

One of his super powers is that he can tiptoe. I kid you not that if he wants to get somewhere without us knowing (like upstairs when the vet arrives at our house – yes, we have a home visiting vet and it ROCKS), he can tiptoe without letting his nails touch the floor, without making a sound. It is amazing.

He is perfect.

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • --Deb says:

    Aw, NICE new family member! My dog Chappy is delighted whenever anyone brings a new dog home. He looks very handsome with his cape, too. (Although, um, (coughtypocough) is he wearing it, or did he lose it?)

    And, web 2.0 as a pyramid scheme? It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t think it quite works because the interactivity and viral nature of the web these days is as much lateral as it is vertical. Sure, there are starting points from where information trickles down and spreads, but it works exactly the same way in the other direction. A person writing a specific website or blog presumably reads lots and lots of different sites, articles, forums, etcetera and then posts about the very specific things that struck them as being worth mentioning. Then, it trickles down to all the people reading that person’s page or reading someone who reads that page, and it spreads.

    In other words, I think Web 2.0 is more like a massive game of Chutes and Ladders than a pyramid–because there are endless numbers of pyramids, and some are perched on their narrowist corners and some are on their broad base, but it all works by going up and down and sideways, all at the same time.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Deb – great insights on the pyramid thing – you are right on, and I love this perspective. Now, if someone says this to me, I’ll have the perfect answer.
    Silas isn’t new…we’ve had him since he was 8 weeks old; he was just begging and begging for a web feature, so I finally gave in. I appreciate everyone indulging me on a Friday…
    Talk soon,

  • No, not a pyramid scheme. The content originator is not exploiting others by selling a piece of the financial action to increasingly large numbers at each level until it reaches the point at which the bottom level gains nothing — but still pays something.

    That’s a pyramid scheme, I believe. I’ve never quite grasped the difference between lawful multi-level marketing and unlawful pyramid scheme. Maybe the law’s not so clear, as I read about this travel outfit being investigated.

    What I describe may be lawful multi-level marketing . In any event, Web 2.0 is not hierarchical, which I think is what Deb said.

    If anyone is an exploiter, it is bottom feeders who build adsense sites consisting of no content other than others’ RSS feeds.

    If you are communicating information in a manner calculated to reach people who will care about it, you are not sleazy, no matter how commercial the ultimate motive or how manipulative the SEO techniques, etc. (IMHO).

    FYI: I happened to see this question on Linked In!

  • Julie Roads says:

    George! I’m thrilled to see you here. Everyone – George has a kickin’ employment law site – check it out. (
    Well put – I’ll sleep better tonight knowing firmly that I am not slime. Just kidding, never thought I was.
    Thanks for your words of wisdom,

  • Amber says:

    I find your assistant absolutely adorable. Do you let him mentor other assistants? Mine just sits under my chair and alerts me at inappropriate times.

  • Julie Roads says:

    He would love to be a mentor to your pooch, but you should know that he is very misbehaved in the office – he can’t type and only pays attention while I’m eating lunch. Thanks for reading and writing back! I’m definitely going to be stopping by your site when I’m picking out new books…

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