2 March 2013Pete Ashton:
There are currently 529,493 Solid Gold Bomb clothing items on Amazon. Assuming they survive this and don’t get shitcanned by Amazon I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they top a million in a few months.
It costs nothing to create the design, nothing to submit it to Amazon and nothing for Amazon to host the product. If no-one buys it then the total cost of the experiment is effectively zero. But if the algorithm stumbles upon something special, something that is both unique and funny and actually sells, then everyone makes money.
Most people would see that the shirts were sold by a third-party seller, but I doubt even most technologically-savvy people would think the shirts were automatically generated. I know I didn’t.
I don’t condone web spam1, but whoever thought that up is incredibly clever. It probably took “Solid Gold Bomb” a day to code and — with no considerable upfront costs2 — would need only one shirt to be virally successful to make the endeavour worthwhile.
1 Although I hope this footnote is superfluous, I don’t condone rape either.
2 Ashton portrays in the post that it is effectively all algorithmic. I don’t agree that there hasn’t been at least some human input though. It does look like minimal human filtering has taken place.