y2k vs swine flu: lessons for two industries

Everyone in the IT industry pretends it never happened.  One of the most succesful marketing fabrications ever in what is otherwise quite a boring sector.  It generated billions in revenue out of nothing.   The y2k bug was a public relations triumph.  And in many ways, it relied on similar scaremongery as H1N1.  Presidents and prime ministers went on record publicly in order to “raise awareness”.  They authorised massive amounts of public funding in order to counter the potential threat.

Potential” the operative word.  Nobody guaranteed that air control, traffic lights and bank systems would crumble as the Millenium dawned.  But everyone happilly got paid overtime to miss the New Year party.  “Just in case”.

Swine flu, though also grossly overhyped at least had some actual victims!   y2k managed to capitalize on the planet’s fear of robots taking over.  A generation of decision makers seeing technology taking over but at the same time not really understanding how it works.

I must admit that I did not personally mastermind y2k hysteria.  In fact I am one of the very few who publicly, clearly and often stated that it is all complete nonsense.  But now older and wiser I am more interested in the hysteria than the truth.  I want to do a Steve Jobs on the planet by actually causing such irrationality!

It is the Holy Grail of marketing.  Selling services for a non existent threat with all the marketing created by terrified, responsibility fearing civil servants.  Anybody with a passion for serious social engineering please contact me;  with the increased pace of technological adoption and dependence, combined with social media we can do better than y2k and swine flu combined!

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