Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Think Tank: EntreCard And The New Blog-Based Economy (II)

[Before I get back to the topic at hand, a quick explanation; I'm not planning on making this a "how to make money blogging" site (as I think Laura might be concerned about, see Comments to previous post). But I've become intrigued with the whole EntreCard phenomenon - collecting/dropping Cards, the seemingly endless (for the moment, anyway) series of contests, the sense of honest friendliness among its members. I truly hope none of that is lost in the New EC World. But I can't see it working out that way.
I am not very good at monitization; the ideas I'm throwing out here are my own, and should therefore be looked at with great suspicion. But if you can make some coin with them, well and good. Please bear with this post, and perhaps one more on the subject. Then we will return to our true goal of making the Blogosphere a better place through SCIENCE! - MR
This post takes the form of an history lesson, or at least one of those clever vignettes you sometimes see promoting The History Channel. I apologize. But it features one of the most intriguing "moments" in the history of North America.
The photo above needs a little explanation. Imagine a line of humans, moving cautiously across an ice field, climbing up the iceberg-like side of a mountain. This line extends across a massive stretch of ground, in both directions, as far as the eye can see. You are weighed down with over one hundred pounds of food and other supplies, as is everyone else in line. The line moves slowly in cold that reaches well below zero degrees Fahrenheit. You shuffle uncertainly, cautiously searching for drop-offs and gaps in the ice that sits below the snow. It's 1898, and you are trying to get across the principle land route to the hottest gold rush site in a generation; the Klondike region of Canada.
Tens of thousands of men and women abandoned safe, sane lives in the United States, Canada, or other parts of the World. With little or no experience in winter travel [or gold mining, for that matter] , these brave people headed to what is now Canada's Northwest Territory. They slept in tents, or on the cold ground in sleeping bags. When they finally reached the gold fields, the third-largest city on the continent, Dawson, sprung up to supply their needs and wants. This "city" had wood-framed homes, taverns that at least matched the ones in the "outside" world. They had large theatres for plays, and most of the bars had performers brought in from the East. They had banks, to keep the proceeds of lucky miners. They had newspapers to inform the locals what was going on there, and in the outside world.
And yet...within five years, it was almost all gone!
The gold was, for the most part, "played out". Without the draw of riches, many of the region's residents left, for the next gold rush, the next opportunity, the next big thing.
Some stayed on, of course. But they were in the minority.
After the gold rush [that'd make a great song title, wouldn't it?] , many books came out about the Klondike rush [one of the best is Pierre Berton's Klondike. Berton's parents did stay on after the 'rush, and he grew up in the abandoned town]. Most of them pointed out that, while a few prospectors hit big, most of them headed home empty-handed. A few added the observation that those who seemed to do best in the whole era were those who provided goods and services to the miners. Further, the ones who did best within that group frequently were the ones who thought "outside the box". For instance, one salesman somehow transported hundreds of cats to Dawson. No one could figure out why. He grew rich selling his cats to lonely miners who wanted a pet!
Mull over the story of the Klondike over the next few days. I think there may be a lesson or two for EntreCarders [thought I'd forgotten about all that, didn't you?] in the frozen North. We'll talk again soon...
-Mike Riley

1 comment:

Sly Hoax said...

'after the gold rush' is the title of a Niel Young album... I don't recall if there's a song of the same name...

This is an interesting story, and a good point that you make here.