Schadenfreudr© (beta)

When I was in the shower this morning afternoon today, I thought of a sure-fire idea for a new Web 2.0 service that is guaranteed to make billions. I’m giving it out for free on the internets so some enterprising young web developer can take it and make his fortune on paper until the next crash.

It’s based on two facts:

  1. I get tons of e-mail and web-based “alerts” from all kinds of businesses giving me information they assume I know what to do with. Because I bought a few shares of Apple stock at one point, every week I get an e-mail telling me that the CTO of some silicon company in Saskatchewan just announced his retirement to spend more time with his family. Supposedly I can use the information to buy and/or sell at just the right time to take advantage of the dip and/or surge in stock price, which based on the paltry number of shares I own, will end up making me a cool $1.75. Instead, I just feel a little envious that some other guy I don’t know has made enough to retire while I still have to work.
  2. The older you get, the more likely it is you’re going to meet people who are really, truly awful. People who manage to make your life so unpleasant you’d swear they were actively working against you, but when confronted, act as if you were making a big deal out of nothing and just go on being awful.

But with our increasingly busy lives, who has time to hold a grudge? That’s where Schadenfreudr© comes in.

Sign up for the service, and give it a list of awful people. Powerful computers will scour the internets for mention of these people, enough to gather their current sense of well-being. This isn’t stalking, because only public, legally-available data will be gathered — i.e., it won’t try to get at their bank account, but it will look at the stock performance of their company.

Every morning, you wake up and get a concise but comprehensive report of all the bad stuff that’s happened to the people on your list. If their stock price plummets, you’ll be the first to know. Layoffs at their company? It’s in there. Along with the heartfelt blog post about how their girlfriend and/or boyfriend left them. And vacation pictures that were poorly composed or were taken at lame places because the place they wanted to go to was all booked up. And awards they were nominated for, but lost. Not to mention negative and lukewarm reviews, bad-mouthing on internet message forums, and police reports.

Even targets who are having a lucky streak will provide material. Using advanced language-recognition technology, the service will analyze writings and send you only the bad parts. Your awful person puts up a blog post about how he was walking to work and found a $20 bill? Schadenfreudr© Digest tells you the story of how your target has to walk to work instead of driving a car as nice as yours. (For an extra fee, you can get a semi-fictionalized account of how crucial that $20 was to the person from whom it was so carelessly stolen).

And there’s image recognition as well. A flickr photo of your target’s wedding becomes a zoom-in on the dark clouds over the horizon, or your target’s new husband’s obscenely hairy back.

And even when the service can’t find something bad to report, you’ll still get an e-mail alert. Schadenfreudr© Reminders choose a random entry from the list of grievances you provide at registration time, re-opening old wounds by describing once again what your target did to earn your wrath. It’ll also include a chart showing how many internet sites it searched, giving you detailed, accurate numbers of how many millions of people aren’t talking about your target.

As a paid subscriber, you’ll have access to the exact number of other people who have put your target on their own hit list, for those pesky cases of a person you can’t stand but everybody else just seems to love. And of course, your target won’t be able to check his own status on the service. (And if you upgrade to platinum service, your target will simply get a report reading “Nobody cares enough about you to be angry at you.”)

It’s obviously an idea whose time has come. Definitely better than anything that bitch of a college advisor could’ve come up with.