Most people would agree that cold calling, unsolicited email and advertising are annoying things that the world would be better off without having. Imagining for a moment that we live in such an ideal world, how will people find out about new products or services?
Tech entrepreneurs are often criticized for only making services for other Internet-savvy techy people. Why aren't we making the lives of people in other industries easier? Well, suppose you take this advice and start making software that will really improve the lives of people who work at bakeries. You complete your software after 5 years of hard work. It's a true masterpiece and will double the profitability of a bakery, so you can't wait to get people to use it. But in this world where you aren't allowed to call, send unsolicited e-mails or advertise, how will you ever get a bakery to hear about your product? Mostly they bake stuff, maybe using POS software or excel spreadsheets to adjust recipes or keep books. They don't actively search online for things that might improve their bakery, and they certainly don't hang out at Hacker News, so they will never hear about your great new product that way.
You might say an industry event is the solution, but in a world where you are not allowed to initiate contact, an industry event will never get organized. After all, the event organizers would somehow need to contact the bakeries to inform them about their event, but that is not allowed in this world. They cannot even put an ad in the paper, because in this imagined society no advertising is possible.
The purpose of this post is to invite comments on how to resolve this situation. How would the ideal world work such that useful products could be discovered by everyone that could benefit from them, but without resorting to aggressive or annoying means of delivering the message?
Thanks to elkclone and wahnfrieden on #startups for suggestions to this post.