Both the sites that Techcrunch points to today made me smile and nod in recognition. I actually think this kind of poking fun and criticism is really constructive. Sure, it’s probably hard to take when it’s your company being picked on, but hopefully it makes people think harder and come up with better ideas.
For example, here’s what I need today: a travel planner for the entire state, with information on public transit combined with drive time and flight info. If a site like Travelocity could navigate the government bureaucracies and combine their data with that of sites like 511.org, and just collect all that data in to one place it would help me tremendously. I need info for all the various services and options on one page so I can compare whether or not it makes sense to rent a car and fight through pre-Thanksgiving traffic, pay the extra to fly and get there on time, or save my pennies and take a train. Will this be quick or easy to implement? Nope, the bureaucracy alone will make grown men cry, let alone the politics of getting everyone to agree to this kind of aggressive comparison. But think how often and how many people would use it, and of the commissions you could rake in from providing links to pay for whatever service someone decides on. This is not the safe, cheap, easy-to-flip startup model, and I know there are a lot of people out there who lost big on big ideas in the past. But I want it badly. Done well, it may even force a little efficiency from our transit providers. A girl can dream, right?