Shiny Penny 2001 D Macro April 30, 20101

Image by Steven Depolo

My thought process started with a comment I stumbled across recently on a blog the name of which I can’t hope to remember. The author was responding to a user complaining that he [the author] had taken the easy route” when he attached a link to an informative post rather than summarizing and republishing it as his own. It went something like this

As a community there should be the mentality of giving credit where credit is due. It’s thus necessary to provide credit in the form of forfeiting your traffic to the original author.

In other words, adding a meaningful thought doesn’t justify directing web traffic away from the original poster and towards your site. It’s this mentality that makes the blogging community so unique. I see an opportunity.

Unlike other online social communities, bloggers possess an unbridled appreciation and value for the work of others. In an effort to show that appreciation a social norm has developed around the idea of providing authors the credit they deserve. It’s a positive one and shows itself far more frequently than places like Facebook and Twitter, where a horde of parody accounts rip each other off within seconds, to the point that it’s utterly impossible to discern the true author. Well, what if there was a way to give credit in the form of say… credit?

You’ve heard the horror stories. The value of the penny is shrinking by the second! The coinage bearing arguably our most beloved president is headed straight for the light and there’s nothing we can do about it. The situation is gloom for good ole’ Abe. What’s fortunate is that it’s the pennies own insignificance that makes it perfect for ‘other things.’ Of the dozens of possible reuses that might revive the penny, I think it’s best to keep giving them away.

I Like Facebook

When’s the last time you routed through a pocket full of change for exactly seven pennies to round out that perfect, no-change necessary transaction? Hopefully, too long to remember as that helps the cause!

Imagine for a moment that you

  • Give up one Dollar.
  • Get back one hundred ‘Likes.’
  • Like‘ things.

My thinking is that honestly most of us can spare a buck or two every once in a while, even if it’s just for fun. Say you offer up one dollar and get 100 somethings in return. Call these somethings ‘Likes’ and it’s simple enough, ‘Like’ a post and the author gets one penny or more. Now unfortunately for lesser-known bloggers this won’t really be of any value as they don’t achieving enough volume to make it worthwhile. Obviously the opposite is true for the big-leaguers. Millions of views and hundreds of likes could translate into something sizable. It’s more than they got before.

In all honesty there probably isn’t much promise in such an idea. It’s almost guaranteed that the practice wouldn’t catch on in more widely used networks until it adopted elsewhere. Not to mention the act of money handling makes an otherwise straightforward process into something much more involved.

While I don’t see much hope for this kind of reward system in the crude form above, with a good deal of alteration it has the potential to make a stir. Monetizing one’s personal thoughts with the internet is a relatively new idea and as a result there really isn’t a way to do it, yet. The first person to successfully implement a way of paying people for the data they generate online will likely make a lot of money.  ‘Likes’ are a solid place to start. Everyone wants them, many want more of them, and those that get them are a bit obsessed. Find a way for Kim Kardashian to earn some dough from her Instagram ‘Likes’ and I think you’ve got something.


The Curious Case of the Used iPhone

True or False: There’s an iPhone somewhere in the vicinity?

Without getting too particular, the probability that the above statement is ever false is increasing low. Clearly those not in ownership of an iPhone, or living in isolation, will recall a scenario in which one of Apple’s earth-shattering devices wasn’t within a 100 ft. radius, but other than that? Really think about it. It’s a rare sight to find an iPhone alternative in the hands of anyone under… thirty well, any age really. I’m trying to stress the prevalence of the iPhone in numbers here, not popularity.

The production numbers of the iPhone 4 and 4S are arguably the highest of any iPhone model to date. Hundreds of millions were produced in the four years between the iPhone 4’s introduction in June 2010, to the 4S’s discontinuation on September 9, 2014. I still use an iPhone 4, albeit not by choice. In any case, despite the several variations of iPhone 5’s and iPhone 6’s roaming the streets, the iPhone 4 and 4S stand resolute. What other phone has stood the test of time besides the Motorola Razr V3? It doesn’t happen often.

My Question

With millions of iPhone 4 and 4S’s still in existence, and quite frankly dominating your area’s Craigslist “Cell Phone” classifieds, why hasn’t someone capitalized on the availability and ever falling market value of both models?

Yes, I don’t care to look at the ridiculous number of options I have to “turn that used iPhone into cold, hard cash.” That’s not what I’m referring to. Firms like Gazelle have established services to make it easy and hassle-free to receive money in exchange for your old phone. That’s all well and good, but if in 2014 you find yourself looking to get some cold, hard cash for your old iPhone 4, Gazelle’s willing to hand over a hefty $15 for an 8GB model in ‘flawless’ condition. FYI, that’s five more one-dollar bills than you’d get if it was ‘good.’ I won’t delve into the fact that they turn around and sell 50% as refurbished for only 10 times more than they pay you for a flawless trade-in.

Services like Gazelle are great, don’t get me wrong. They’ve found a way to capitalize on the availability and shrinking market value of all phones. I’m speaking strictly of the good ole iPhone 4 here. The thing is ancient, but it’s still an incredible phone for a huge demographic. Smartphones have largely taken over the world, yes? Well, name a few family members or friends that really don’t utilize a smartphone to it’s fullest extent or maybe even nowhere near it. If we all knew just two people who fit that bill, the total would be astonishing. I’m thinking we do.

The Problem

So let’s assume there is a substantial demographic of people who just don’t use a smartphone remotely close to what it’s intended for. Combine them with countless other people, all having their own reason for not truly needing a smartphone, be it age, money, or ease of learning, that demographic is HUGE. But what do cellular providers do to address the needs of this market segment? Why, they offer the most glamorous of Samsung flip-phone’s or your choice of twenty feature-filled, entertainment-oriented, productivity-boosting, pixel-packed smartphones. Leaving the majority of people using a smartphone out of the desire not to carry around a ten year-old piece of technology.

Call it inevitable, but when these same people upgrade beyond an iPhone 4 what are they getting in return? The carrier gets $200 and another two years, the customer a minor physical update to a phone they were once hesitant to buy and use out of conformity.

Looking Forward

What we need to do is breathe new life into what was once the epitome of cellular innovation. The iPhone 4 and 4S are two amazing devices more than viable to several demographics. Provide these segments with an inexpensive solution with a stand-out advantage or two and I believe there’s a potential for profit. What more interesting is the thought of these customer’s being able to strategically utilize their now pointless upgrades to coincide with the release of a major phone. Now you’ve provided that customer with a phone that suits his needs and an extra $600. Assuming all goes perfectly.

I’ve even pondered the possibility of users being able to essentially give their upgrade to this fictional service and have them handle the selling process. There are sure to be a slew of problems, legalities, downsides, and what-not that accompany such an idea. I can think of quite a few. But with the help of the right minds anything is possible. Critique away!

Featured Image

Great Minds Think Like Sean Parker

Below is an exact copy of what I once believed was my best idea yet. I honestly thought I had found a winner. Keep in mind that I generally spend only 30 minutes to an hour outlining an idea like this. I could first check online for a pre-existing service, but where’s the fun in that?

I try to allow time for developing an idea before attempting to immediately crush it. Interestingly enough, this little gem was created long ago by a man whose name I hope at least rings a bell. Sean Parker, the brain behind Napster and more recently a cofounder of Facebook, launched Causes in 2007 as one of the 10 original Facebook apps. You’d think I’d have heard of it by 2014…

Nevertheless, the company has quite an impressive website. I was surprisingly able to find some similarities between and my idea. Some of the extra features I jotted down even wound up being present in the real thing.

This is not just one of my better ideas, but proof that I just might possess the ability to create something incredible. While I’m certainly disappointed that Sean Parker founded Causes seven years before I had a similar idea, I can’t help but take it as a compliment. If you’ve never heard of Sean Parker or (I clearly hadn’t) I encourage you do to some light research.

Without further ado, this is copied word for word from my Notes:


A website to collectively solve the worlds most imminent problems. Solved by the everyday people who live with them. Open forum. Anyone can post any idea.

A new network. Not social or business. But creative.
Link with Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn

A creative network where one goes to make an impact on the causes that mean the most to them.
One can display his/her affiliated causes.
Be it charities, research foundations, cancer, literally ANYthing people can support.
Show what YOU personally have done to benefit your cause.


Center page: Search bar “What do you care about?”

New and popular causes displayed on the homepage, with a few random comments attached.
(I envision a homepage, with different causes floating around on the screen. Mousing over a cause prompts a small graphical expansion that displays a few comments (random, top, famous contributor) connected by lines)

Creating New causes:

Must be a way to organize comments and material in a hierarchical fashion. It must be organized and easy to interpret. Meaning, at any point one can view a particular cause and know within minutes exactly where the  cause stands.
This way, people can immediately build upon the current information.
The random, gut ideas that first pop into our heads are the ones  we want. Not some idea that you’ve cultivated for days, a genuinely unique thought.
The goal is to constantly build upon what we already know.

How do we process all this new input?
Good ideas need immediate recognition. If not, there is a system that essential “tops” the idea to make it visible to all those viewing/working on the cause.
Would LOVE to get professionals involved. Use other social networks as incentives.

MAYBE: have two segments. One with established causes, the other with upcoming. The process of becoming established varies (members, progress, awareness) but that way one can either browse new or established causes.

Guide for creating a cause:
When new, a cause works it way through the stages of becoming established.
Members can visually track the cause from conception to awareness.
For example: when the cause reaches a particular stage, it’s time to create a web presence. Give the community the choice of how they want to do it, while providing a place and the resources necessary.
Could be an app, website, other medium.
Actually guide them through it, provide resources on web development, or whatever the next stage of development is.
Should be easy for a community to build a cause from the ground up.
Once large enough: provide resources for TV advertising, magazines, news paper, etc..

IDEALLY: business that provide these resources (i.e. websites, advertising, etc..) should be involved. A cause is then able to work directly with a list of potential companies. Said companies have their own “profile”. Thus, cause and business can work together seamlessly. Allows a cause to more easily develop global awareness.

If there is incentive for businesses then they will participate. The incentive would generally be money and customers. Being a member would open the business to new markets. COULD BE HUGE HELP FOR SMALL LOCAL BUSINESSES. Like web startups.

Cause in process:

Stages of a cause:
Cause moves through stages.
Each stage provides relevant resources to push the cause forward.
So, at an infant stage, the cause would focus on idea development. At toddler stage: learning to walk (aka website, app).
At teen stage: Spreading awareness (selling merchandise, social media, commercials).
At adult: endorsements, foundations, scholarships.
At global level: events, sponsorships, etc..
Idea is that as a cause grows, influential people will begin to contribute. Eventually, a cause transitions from community driven to almost entirely professionally run.

Badges (AKA medals, etc):

A cause displays a badge, denoting its stage in the development process. Ranges from (infant) to (global awareness)
People have badges that display current and previous causes.
Could also display ideas.
Display if you joined a cause that reached a global level

Side note: Joining a cause should require contribution of some form

Causes are not segregated (i.e. cannot be filtered by location, religion, race)
The point is that IT’s the entire world’s problem, not just one demographic.

This could work similarly to Kickstarter. Inventions could potentially make their way, but they would be open sourced and crowd funded. Unlike Kickstarter

By the general lack of organization of my outline one can see that I’m still learning how to best develop an idea past conception. I focus far more on transferring my thoughts to paper versus what needs to go where. There’s no doubt that I barely scratched the surface of features, functionality, and even the idea itself.