Guys! I Have the Next Big Thing: A Social Network for Hermit Crabs

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A place to meet and consume crab-generated content from crustaceans like you.

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Fresh off the news that GOOD Magazine is being transformed into a Reddit-wannabe for "social good," I would like to let you in on my new plans for this blog. I am thrilled to announce that I'm pivoting away from producing expensive content and reinventing myself as the leading social network for Caribbean hermit crabs.

These amazing creatures live on the tiny island of Carrie Boy Caw off the coast of southern Belize. We (I just hired an intern a few seconds ago via Twitter) believe we can help these creatures strengthen their communities, so that they can find more and better hermitages throughout their lives, which largely consist of eating eating overripe fruit, animal remains, and feces while stealing abandoned shells and looking creepy.

We were drawn to this lucrative demographic by an article in Scientific American we read today while coming up with our business model that described the difficult situation that hermit crabs find themselves in. In previous years, most hermit crabs on the island "were living in shells that were a tight fit or had one too many holes." Naturally, these aspirational consumers were always on the lookout for "more spacious dwelling[s]."

But these hermit crabs aren't just out for themselves. No, they are looking for win-wins for everyone. They band together in "social networks" in which the crabs all move up the chain together. If you give them a new shell, the researchers discovered, the crabs will wait until the crab that fits perfectly into it comes along, then they'll all trade up, each acquiring roomier digs. These crabs want to do well by doing right, just like today's human entrepreneurs. They don't just want to change shells, they want to change the world.

And that's why, beginning soon, we'll be creating advertorials with several leading shell companies. This "content" will go viral and, building from our core audience of hermit crabs on that island off Belize, infect a whole ocean... with enthusiasm for our brand that is! The energy and excitement they bring to the crab generated content they produce will be a key to leveraging our core competency as a technology platform.

Of course, you might counter that hermit crabs can't read or that human conceptions of consumption and value are unique to our species. You might say that you can't build a media empire based on advertising to small ocean creatures. But look around, fool! The Internet changes everything and all you really need are a devoted community of organisms with pulses, and you can make anything happen.


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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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