Sept 26 in SF
Tuesday, September 4, 2001 by Dave Winer.
Good morning and welcome back to the technology revolution, brought to you by the Internet. I hope you're well rested, because it's really rockin.
This morning Hewlett-Packard and Compaq merged, continuing the consolidation in the technology revolutions of the 70s and 80s; and Ellen Hancock is out as CEO of Exodus, leaving what remains of the dotcom boomers wondering how we'll connect when Exodus combines (we hope) with one of the remaining players. UserLand hosts at Exodus, so we have an interest in the outcome.
Today's song is Ain't Wasting Time No More, by the Allman Brothers Band.
"You don't need no gypsy to tell you why. You can't let one precious day slip by. Look inside yourself, and if you don't see what you want, maybe sometimes then you don't, but leave your mind alone and just get high."
Against the backdrop of consolidation, let's start a new thread.
The technology revolution of the 90s, the Web, is winding-down, in dramatic ways. Assume it'll find a bottom, we will be using the Web for the forseeable future, much as we still use PCs, laser printers and spreadsheets. It may go down a predictable path, but also may morph into something different from what we thought it was.
Assume there will be false revolutions -- as there were as the industry tried to self-induce hypergrowth in the past. Concepts like artificial intelligence, object oriented programming, PDAs, push technology or P2P. Of course each of these technologies eventually became part of the technology landscape, but not at the times their promoters tried to bootstrap them, and usually were not the root of the revolution, just a feature. Timing matters, the market must be ready, the infrastructure already deployed or quickly deployable. Many other criteria apply to raising a new technology to the revolutionary level.
Lurking amid the false revolutions are the gems. That's what we want. Ideas like personal computers and spreadsheets in the early 80s, graphic user interfaces in the mid 80s, desktop publishing in the late 80s, or networking in the mid 90s.
If the past is a guide, true revolutions are not immediately apparent to many people. I missed desktop publishing, for example, because I didn't understand how fast printer technology had been developing, and how much demand there was for inexpensive typesetting. I didn't miss the Web because my mind was pretty empty when it came along and a good friend was persistent at nagging me to take a look. I like to think I have a creative mind, but I can easily miss the next revolution unless I'm systematic about looking for it.
In the middle of the booms people are too busy to see new possibilities, but now the demand for revolutionary ideas is high. People are looking and listening, new ideas can take hold. This is what Silicon Valley does during recessions -- we develop technology and infrastructure to fuel the next revolution. If we bet right, growth can come back more quickly.
So here's the crucial question..
To answer the question I'm going back to the roots.
In 1994, this column started with a discussion with its readers. First I stated my vision for PDAs, got pushback from Motorola, then the leading developer of PDAs. I declared Microsoft and the other BigCo's routed around by the Internet, and got pushback from Bill Gates. We did 24 Hours of Democracy in 1995, to demonstrate the power of the Internet to express massive quantities of ideas and stories, and went on to start tens of thousands of independent websites for the same purpose.
Now we know how to use this medium much more effectively than we did in the beginning. I want to dig ideas out of the minds of the smart people we know and leave an archive behind so next time we can do even better.
On Wednesday, 9/26 at 8:30AM, we will discuss this in a 90 minute session at the Seybold Publishing Conference in San Franscisco at Moscone. We'll also publish the results on the Web.
Attendance at the session will be open to all who participate in the process, so if you're in San Francisco on the 26th, we hope to see you face to face. If it goes as I hope, it will be a very large session, with lots of value, some in the moment, and some over time. We'll keep the archive online indefinitely, as we have with similar projects dating back to the mid-90s.
Please edit your vision off-line and post it to the mail list where it can be discussed with other people who are interested in the future. Text only, no word processing documents. Please include your full name, title and affiliation.
The advantages of posting to the website are that you can edit it easily after posting and the mail list is write-only; and you can include HTML markup in Web posts.
I prefer concise statements, up to five paragraphs, with links to background material. I want the elevator pitch, not the business plan.
Self-interested ideas are quite welcome, in other words, if you or your company wants to use this opportunity to clearly get its vision for the future on the record, especially as it relates to publishing, please participate. We'll create a directory of vision statements on the site, and link to ones I find especially interesting on Scripting News. It's a good way to gain exposure for your ideas.
If you have questions about the process, please post them on the mail list.
I hope the smartest DaveNet readers make a time commitment to this process. Let's use the Web as a thinktank. If it works it'll be a very profitable investment of a few weeks.
Let's have fun!