If there’s one good thing coming out of the whole Tammy porn video fiasco, it is the fact that web users all around the world has discovered how web-savvy and voyeuristic Singaporeans are. Web savvy because as of this time, Tammy-related keywords dominate the Top 6 searches on Technorati, “Tammy NYP” was No. 9 on Yahoo Buzz Log yesterday, proving that Singaporeans had turned to the Internet in overwhelming droves for alternative information.
I also like to think we made the rest of the world interested in us, further driving up the search numbers, because I cannot imagine how a country of 4 million in Singapore, even with 80-90% internet penetration numbers, can form such a formidable force and influence on the global search engines. But I could be wrong, apparently, this new blog of mine is on Page 3-5 of Google search results and I still manged to get 300+++ hits yesterday. Maybe, Tammy-searchers are really information junkies and they do anything to get that extra morsel of info, even scouring that long tail of web searches.
With the high visibility of blogs and the establishment of this medium as an alternative information source, how can Singapore, or the world, leverage on this consumer trend? Web-based service innovation is thoroughly lacking in Singapore, with a few exceptions. Many Singapore-based website interfaces are antiquated, highly un-navigable, slow to load, reflecting an abject lack of user-orientedness. On the business side, internet advertising growth is crawling with slow adoption rates. I wonder if this is due to the hesitancy and fear of media buyers or lack of advertiser awareness. We are still stuck in the doldrums of the dotcom bust as evident in the droves of graduating computing students diving into the investment banking and consulting whirlpools while idiotic business students like me dream of conquering the internet industry. While programmers in Silicon Valley and other Web 2.0 hubs around the world are caught up in cloning what I call the “Digg-MySpace” phenom, a lack of non-public sector nurturing factors is forcing the Singapore web industry to “Digg-OurGrave”.
We might need to start churning out copycats, even if that isn’t being seen as being innovative, because we are so far behind the curve comparatively that mimickry might just be the shortcut to success. There is so much public sector support in the form of hardware infrastructure and money and political support Granted that the latter might not be a critical variable of the entrepreneurship equation, I believe that the impetus to move beyond our current inertia in web-based entrepreneurship has to come from the private sector. The public sector has done all it can and has reached saturation point, thank you though, but lets get our act in the private sector together and start bringing in experts, VCs, mentors into Singapore or send them overseas to kickstart web (and web-based media) innovation.
Blogs are one of many good ways to start off. While Mr Brown, Tomorrow, Miyagi, Rockson leads the vanguard, we should be looking towards the next wave who understands the value of blogging and its disruptive potential as a publishing medium. Bloggers have to think big and understand that a part-time hobby, if strategically planned, could develop into a source of passive income with the right content and right target audience (global!). Singlish might be cute for local readers, but its a laughing stock or “xiaxue”/ (hokkien translation for the word “shameful”) when it hits the mainstream web audience.
For those interested in what I had to ramble about, and want to commit to some entrepreneurial action, check out this site.