Here's a Prediction: Schmonopoly Will Be Next Facebook Craze

Confused by Web 2.0? Our Columnist Answers Some NSFAQ (Not-So-Frequently Asked Questions)

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Once again, as a service to real readers, Media Guy fields imaginary questions from nonexistent readers. He does this every few months out of deference to his very busy actual readers -- saving them the trouble of writing in with questions they simply don't have time to ask. Herewith, a special Web 2.0 batch of NSFAQ (not-so-frequently asked questions):
Micro-hooligan: If the gods want to punish Steve Ballmer, they will grant his wishes.
Micro-hooligan: If the gods want to punish Steve Ballmer, they will grant his wishes. Credit: Nancy Kaszerman

What's the deal with the relaunch of web-trade publication The Industry Standard? I was a subscriber to the print edition back during the Web 1.0 bubble, but now that it's come back as a "predict the future" betting site, I'm not sure what to think.
The site is the ultimate mash-up -- of and local off-track-betting parlors (in the new new economy, it's all about OTB, not IPO). As noted on, "Our prediction market is a place where, for entertainment purposes, you can bet on the chances of future events occurring or not occurring using a virtual currency called Standard Dollars." The idea is to harness "the wisdom of crowds" (damn you, Jim Surowiecki!) to gauge the prospects of internet start-ups. "If your bet is correct," the site further explains, "you'll win more Standard Dollars to bet on other predictions." Anybody who registers at the site gets 100,000 Standard Dollars (S$) free. It's the ultimate metaphor for much of what passes for big thinking in the Web 2.0 space these days: Bullshit money gets thrown at bullshit ideas.

Speaking of funny money, is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer going to succeed in his bid to take over Yahoo?
You're asking me to predict? For entertainment purposes?

Um, I guess so.
Well, just so you know, you're going to have to cough up some S$ in small, unmarked bills for that (I'll invoice you). I'll advance you this prediction, though: I think Ballmer will succeed -- and then fail. He'll lose by winning, meaning he'll snag Yahoo (he wants it way more than fellow suitor Rupert Murdoch), but the integration of the two companies, with their vastly differently corporate and technological cultures, will eat up so much time, money and executive mind share that unencumbered Google will get to sprint even further ahead of bogged-down Micro-hoo. It's gonna be so much fun to watch.

Speaking of Google, I saw that the company had to concede recently that it's having a harder time harvesting ad revenue on MySpace than it had hoped. Why aren't social-networking sites a better environment for advertising?
What's that? Sorry, missed your question. Too busy playing Scrabulous.

Hey, speaking of Scrabulous, now that Scrabble owner Hasbro finally (what took so long?) sent the game's developers a cease-and-desist letter, what's going to happen to the brothers, Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, who founded Scrabulous, not to mention the more than 2 million Scrabulous players on Facebook?
First I should mention that I guess some people do click on advertisements on social-networking sites, because the Agarwalla brothers reportedly take in some $25,000 a month from Scrabulous advertising -- which is totally great, because that means that if Hasbro actually takes them to court, they can afford a $500-an-hour lawyer for 50 hours every 30 days! But if Hasbro prevails, the good news is that Rajat and Jayant are already working on a successor to Scrabulous. It's called Schmonopoly.

Schmonopoly? What's that?
It's a totally original idea: an addictive Facebook game in which you get to throw bullshit money at bullshit real estate. I'm thinking of investing some Standard Dollars in the Schmonopoly Corporation, which I think will be the next big internet phenomenon -- and which I predict will usher in Web 3.0, if not Web 3.6 or Web 4.1.
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