Friday, October 13, 2006
Ottobib allows users to enter ISBNs (multiple ISBNs allowed), and it'll automatically generate a bibliography in MLA, APA, or Chicago styles. This is a great timesaver for any students unlucky enough to be writing papers or theses.
It also demonstrates how mindless the bibliography generating process is since it can easily be done by a few lines of code. Seth Godin writes
Now, the typical middle-school teacher is going to explain that kids need to learn to write biographies because it's part of literacy. And a college professor is going to want to keep the tradition going because no one wants to be the first to end it. And an entrepreneur is going to hesitate to build the site I described because she's worried about how hard it will be to spread this idea and how much effort will go into making it the standard resource.
And no student wants to risk a grade by breaking the system.
So, the marketer faces a challenge similar to the disruption challenge that most marketers face--how do you take a system filled with an inefficient, annoying, time-consuming, wasteful and yes, even stupid task and make it better in a way that serves all sides?
If it were me, I'd focus on being cheap and fast and viral. And the more you break the system, the better your upside.