WAVES AND TSUNAMIS
It's a timely book-end to the the more cautionary post penned by our other celebrity blogger Michael Arrington a few weeks ago, titled "Silicon Valley could use a downturn right about now".
The discussion is a healthy one, reminding us of the cyclical nature of all trends, large and small.
That waves undulate and can cause good and bad things to happen is not new.
That these waves occur in the fast-changing technology industry, especially since the dawn of the "computer age", half a century ago, is not new.
That they can create immense opportunities for wealth destruction and creation is not new.
What's new, is that these waves, driven by the rapid evolution of internet technologies, are really starting to hit a whole lot of traditional industries.
And it's happening globally.
Those are statements I started to make back in 1994, when I was focused on getting Wall Street and Silicon Valley to see the opportunities around the then emerging, commercial Internet.
Back then, those statements were hypothetical.
Over a dozen years later, they're starting to become more real than imagined by many. Bubbles and all.
Marc Andreessen of course played a pivotal role in getting things started the first time around.
There was another noteworthy article in the New York Times this weekend titled "Genius and Misfits aren't Synonyms, or are they?" Notable for me, was the article noting,
"...a historian of science named Thomas Kuhn, whose seminal 1962 book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolution,” neatly mapped the anti-establishment landscape of innovation.
Kuhn’s central insight, which fast became a cliché, was to identify “paradigm shifts” as the key to advances in science and technology.
Scientific world views were belief systems first and proved empirically only later. Facts had meaning only in relation to a “world view.” When world views were overthrown by rebels, new paradigms could be constructed, opening the way for new theories, new facts, new technologies."
Paradigm Shifts! Now there's a phrase that makes me nostalgic.
Since then, there have been other internet-driven paradigm shifts made more evident in a mainstream way.
Just three examples would be Google making the paradigm shift in advertising more clear, Craiglist doing the same for Classifieds, and YouTube doing ditto for television.
That phrase, however, was likely over-used in the first Internet "Bubble", as these things often are.
But it's more important to keep in mind now than ever.
We're going to have a whole lot more paradigm shifts, large and small, across a whole array of industries over the coming decades.
This'll largely be driven by the technology waves that continue to amass growing power from the on-going, commercial, internet innovations started a decade ago.
The same New York Times article above also observed:
As the London-based writer Ziauddin Sardar has noted, in the popular mind, Kuhn reduced science to “nothing more than long periods of boring conformist activity punctuated by outbreaks of irrational deviance.”
We're likely to see a whole lot more "irrational deviance" going forward, as entire mainstream industries try and re-configure themselves given the operational and financial disruption caused by the internet.
This rational opportunism is generally incremental, but can cascade pretty quickly into a game of musical chairs, where participants rush not to miss an opportunity.
So it's good to see on-going debates on Bubbles, whether they exist or not.
We're just going to have a lot more of them going forward.
And we'll have a chance to see a whole lot more bubbles, large and small.