It wasn’t very often that my parents took me to the museum. Let’s face it, we were poor immigrants and Brooklyn already featured five Pakistani shops for cultural diversity. Plus, I’m pretty sure that my parents were faking their interest in art for my benefit. No one would mistake our one bedroom apartment for the Louvre. A loo, maybe. I could tell they were faking it when my engineer dad tried to straighten one of the lopsided installations at the Guggenheim. OK, I’m not sure that actually happened, but I remember him grumbling that no one there would ever land a job at his old Soviet aviation plant. A coveted prize.
As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate how those lopsided installations and grotesque paintings got inside the MOMA. Often, it’s the work of a slight, somewhat effeminate, persnickety man dubbed, “The Curator” *. He grew up fetishizing art, learning what inspired Picasso, and hoping his parents don’t discover his secret: that he’ll never become the race car driver they’d hoped for. This preening prodigy spent his whole life admiring objects he couldn’t afford – waiting, pining away for that moment when his stature could finally catch up to his snootiness. Today, he dresses to impress. And, celebrities from Elton John to Ricky Martin can’t wait to marvel at his huge…collection.
As a journalism student at NYU, I remember my immigrant dad interrogating me suspiciously about a profession he couldn’t possibly understand. He asked me the kinds of questions you’d expect from an engineer who just risked everything to drag his family out of the Soviet Union. “How will you make money?” he’d ask in his thick Russian accent. “What kind of (stupid) job is writing?” He would have been more proud if I majored in mink skinning or Zamboni maintenance. Slowly, he chipped away at me until I gave up my journalistic dream. For the past 10 years, it seemed like my dad’s fresh-off-the-boat wisdom paid off. I was having a successful career in business while the field of paid journalism looked like Courtney Love circa 5 a.m. – a hot mess.
Hyper-connected tech blogger Robert Scoble, recently wrote about treating startups more critically. Robert found himself meeting with lots of crappy, over-funded, digital startups that desperately need more time in the oven, an intervention by Dr. Drew, or more likely, Dr. Kevorkian. (My words, not Robert’s.) Not only am I seeing the same things, but I’d take it a step further. I believe this current crop of entrepreneurs might actually be hurting America - and perverting the very idea of innovation in the same way Beyonce’s Run The World is like kicking Aretha Franklin in the ribs…repeatedly. All is not lost. There are ways to take advantage of this situation, though it’s way too late to save this song:
I’ve practiced this confession dozens of times. It never goes well. I thought I could keep it a secret forever, but it’s been eating me up inside. Finally, I’m ready to admit that I haven’t seen an Internet ad in six years. I am an Ad-Blocker. Imagine the toll this taken on my family – the countless discounts I never got, the popup subscriptions I never filled out, the Nigerian generals whose funds I never rescued. I’ve been living with the guilt of getting sponsored content for free. And, I am not alone. This is the end of many ad-supported businesses…and the rise of several new opportunities.