Excellent post on TechCrunch today about the (alleged) end of the Web 2.0 era, and what the next phase of technological innovation might bring us. I’m hopeful that the industry has had its fill of “fun but silly” entertainment products (I’m throwing Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. into that bucket). Nothing wrong with frivolously fun technology, I work in the videogame industry so I can’t exactly point to what I do as a shining beacon of world-saving excellence. But I wonder, at what point do we question the opportunity cost of another social networking application, another Foursquare clone, or the 8th version of a game franchise?
Imagine what would happen if we harnessed even half of the resources used to bring these entertainment offerings to market, and now aimed them at solving problems like renewable energy, higher efficiency consumer-grade automotive engines, etc. Problems that are tougher to crack, and take longer to solve than a version update on a piece of software, or copying and iterating on something that’s already out there. The pace of innovation in the computing and internet tech industry seems to have ground to a walking pace, but it will eventually resume speed. Web 2.0 was fun, but in the next wave will we just get another round of “fun but silly”, or can we maybe solve some real problems?
Good topic. I wonder what it will take to re-direct efforts to solve “real” problems? The business we are in follows immediate market share, money that is provably “out there” for the taking. Solving energy, disease, hunger, and other problems are less about chasing immediate payoffs and ready rewards, but about solving a problem, regardless of the payoff (or lack of one). Do we need a better reward system in place to direct more minds at the serious problems?
Don’t know, but worth thinking on some more.
Good blog, btw. Hope you keep posting.