Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Developer/Service Singularity, Saturation, and Good Ideas

It takes very little capital these days to turn an idea into a functional prototype that scales to a decent size. This seems crazy... crazy AWESOME.

I have lots of ideas, and the sirens always call me. But, like Ulysses, I stay the maiden voyage of my plan. I also like to tell people my ideas. If you want some of them, then please send me an email at

Now, onwards to the meat of this article.

We have reached an interesting point in technology. It used to be, back in the old days, that if you had an idea, then you had to go hustle up some capital, invest in some engineers, and hope that it got built. Then you had to market it and sell it.

Now, if you are a developer and find a problem in your life, then you can solve it by combining pieces. For instance, I was thinking about automatically texting a friend to remind him that he should go the gym. Well, I can just do that with twilio and cron job. Given that I already have a fleet of servers, it's literally an hour away due to Twilio.

If you are a developer, then it takes practically no time to just solve pains; the number of pieces available to developers these days is rather insane.

So, what makes an idea good. Well, if it solves a pain, then it is good. What makes an idea a business? It has to solve a pain that is too painful for the garden variety developer to solve. Those ideas are the ones that you can build a company, and then provide pieces to developers.

I rather like this because this means that more and more pieces are going to be going to the cloud.

As more pieces of the puzzle are available, we will reach a point when all things are possible connecting the real world to the Internet. It's just a matter of time.

What about real problems? There was a post back on hackers news about how facebook was saddening due to the brain drain. In a way, I agree. I think I can say the same thing about wall street and math majors. It's very easy for smart people to go make serious money in wall street. Money is the same siren that pulls computer scientists and engineers to silicon valley and entrepreneurship. However, there are the faithful that stay back in academic to fight the good fight.

I think there will always be the faithful, and I think it is important for people in industry to understand the problems of the faithful. I understood the problems when I was a graduate student, but then I discovered EC2. EC2 enabled me to get more compute quickly than I could muster up in a math or CS department. It enabled me to iterate on serious problems and fail quickly.

So, I look now at the valley and the crazy economics of engineers as a good thing. The infrastructure and technology is being built by Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. This cloud will be a commodity to enable future faithful researchers to get a new level. Researchers will iterate quickly, have more data, process more data, and solve the real problems.

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