Victus Spiritus


The Potential of the Net is far more than today's Colliseum

27 Jul 2010

The Hook.

It just cost you two seconds to click through and the page to render. A majority of browsers will click back or kill the tab, leaving 15% of social web referrals still reading. Each and every character and moment counts. The choice of fonts, page layout, and side bar all arouse immediate judgement in the mind of a new visitor. But all this design effort is just feeding the beast. Your question, what's the point?

Money on the Table

There's a white water river of value raging all around us every second. Hundreds of millions of people are creating and consuming network born content each day. Messages most often whither. A precious few signals sail between minds, propagated by an urge to share, and an instinct to prove our judgement is sound. The sum of all humanity communicating is no small thing. It is a beast with no end to its hunger, nor boundary to its being. The appetite of the crowd for (digital) stimuli is ceaseless and ever changing.

We can feed the beast now to earn a warm meal for our belly. Or we can choose to struggle, to explore, to discover, to cross impossible distances in hopes of revealing undeniable social value.

Optimize or Build?

There's an ongoing resource allocation game and we're all playing whether we wish to or otherwise. We can spend our time and money to cash in on existing inefficiencies, or choose to create new ones. Most successful businesses start with the latter and then optimize to the point of financial extinction while picking up a few coins in the process. If the business identifies a new high value region while optimizing its primary function, it may survive another market generation.

It's funny that we are capable of building tools that can do just about anything*, but when it comes to producing a single instance of value, we struggle. That's probably why most of the world's energy is expended optimizing what already is. There's no (hard) open ended question to answer when we focus on efficiency. Building or more often repurposing existing concepts and laying the foundation for follow on construction takes great insight (crazy) and risk ($). Good technology has an odd way of attracting other tech on top of itself. It's easier to extend and connect complex tools with clear interfaces than it is to reinvent them. The "not invented here" syndrome that has taxed builders everywhere may finally decline with open source and even less restrictive tool sharing^.


* = powerful programming languages, huge construction technology, genetic manipulation

^ = There are many advantages of socially developed technology. Reliability beyond the life of a single business, diverse testing and extension, and the sum of focused part time efforts being greater than its parts are just a few of the benefits of shared technology development (open source being one type)