I was watering the basil plant on my deck when I noticed that an industrious spider had woven a web around the blossoming flowers. I could see the spider laying in wait, its webby business plan optimally deployed to start generating revenue in the form of hapless flower-loving insects.
I couldn’t help but think that this is a common business model:
- Find some popular content or a popular destination
- Insert yourself as a middleman or as a distraction
- Reap a percentage of the traffic that is flowing to the content
Nothing wrong with this, as this model is underlying premise behind television advertising, the businesses that line the roadways to Niagara Falls and Anaheim, billboards, bumper stickers, news agregators, for-profit trade shows, retail channels, Google AdSense, toll roads, taxes, financial services, and many forms of brokering. It’s profitable, and you don’t actually have to spend time creating anything other than the web. For people who don’t create content, managing content is a pretty good way to make a living, because content creators can often use the help; it’s a lot of work, and when the partnership is symbiotic, everyone wins: creators, managers, and customers.
In the case of this industrious spider, however, its business model is actually leveraging the creative energies of the flower to ensnare visitors that would otherwise assist its pollination effort. In other words, the spider’s interests are in conflict with the interests of the flower, and it grows fat at the expense of the community of flowers.
If this was a business instead of a spider and a flower, I would be absolutely disgusted. Ordinarily I would leave nature alone, but I’m going to go break up that web and encourage the spider build its snare somewhere else. Go ahead, call me a meddling human; I bet the FTC will be on my side :-)