This is oddly creepy. Will the people getting this stuff will routinely tell people they've gotten it for free? (Glad to see that Joi Ito says he will...)
Newsweek: The Connected Get More Connected. This month, 100 of Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, lawyers, bloggers and promoters will begin receiving cool new stuff for free, delivered straight to their homes and offices. In return, these movers and shakers promise to sample the products and offer feedback to the their manufacturers. The companies hope that, if the mood strikes, the Silicon Valley 100 will chat up, blog on, or just plain recommend the products to friends and colleagues, generating that most invaluable of currencies: buzz.
How does this differ from the stuff that shows up in news organizations' newsrooms all the time, from companies hoping to get reviews of their products? When writing a tech column, for example, I got ridiculous amounts of software, back when it came in boxes. (I went out and bought copies of the stuff I decided to use in everyday ways.) Sportswriters don't pay to cover the games. Movie reviewers go to private screenings. And so on.
What bothers me is the lack of transparency (apart from Brad Stone's scoop in getting the story) in this case. It's just an extension of a concept of what some call "buzz marketing" -- getting allegedly "regular people" to tout products without disclosing the practice.
I hope the people named in this story -- some of whom are friends of mine -- will decide either to disclose what they're doing, or bow out of this exercise entirely.