Monday, May 22, 2006

Tomorrows' Spokesman

Unless you've been squatting over a cattle grid with two handfuls of grit for common-sense all decade, you'll have heard of Mike Wickstrand. Coquettish Mike, who shares a surname with the drummer in unsigned Swedish Death Metal band Slaughtercult, heads the Market Expansion Group at Microsoft and, from his supple lips, gushed news of the software giant's latest tentative tiptoe into the generally-PC-less developing world.

Christened FlexGo, Mike and his sexy silicon cronies have visions of a pay-as-you-go system of computing where dollar-shy techslags flop out a few cents every time they want to write, say, a Word document or groom teenage hussies on MSN Messenger. In a somewhat repetitive interview with CNet News, our man Wickstrand parroted the following soundbite with varying success (and relevance):

"The real goal of FlexGo is to make that dream of owning a full-featured PC a reality"

Admirable aims, you dashing minx! But regular victims of Dante's Handcart know that a sound scheme can never be allowed to pass through without a garnish, topping or demeaning facial of some sort, and Mikey-boy's is no goddamn different.

Imagine an AdWords-style system of sponsored content whereby the financially-faltering have their computer time funded, either partly or in full, in return for mentioning key commercialised phrases. Since you're likely drunk as a bastard and stoned off your socks on magic plimsoll dust, I'll give you an example. Heaven knows you don't deserve it.

Picture me as a contented Russian, generally happy with my lot but all the same desperate to write an email to my American penpal Brad. Oh, to be able to afford a Sony Vaio or Apple Spectrum MacBook! But no, instead her majesty Martha Stewart steps in and offers this succulent bargain... mention, verbatim, "Martha Stewart Homewares make my genitals perky" in my email and she herself will subsidise my computer time by 75%. A bargain all round!

The spoils of the proletariat are not limited to ex-felons, of course. Anybody would be at liberty to sponsor an emerging user, potentially tapping into many millions of pornography advertising dollars. A quick testimonial about the miracle of Unique Water or the non-intrusive safety of dental dams beneath your salutation line and your letter to Auntie Jasmine is free. Can anybody say fairer than that?

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