Friday, November 11, 2005

Slower and Deeper

We always tend to overestimate the immediate consequences of a revolution, but underestimate the long-term consequences.
    - Dr Francis Collins (and many others)

In other words, big change is always slower and deeper than we first think. The Web is a big change, and we're now, 10 years post Netscape IPO, and 5 years post NASDAQ crash, just starting to see some of its real impact. My favorite analogy is to the introduction of cars - at first they were just direct horse substitutes ("horseless carriages"); eventually they transformed cities with department stores into suburbs with strip malls.

David Coleman recently fleshed out that analogy in an interview with Phil Leigh. My slightly paraphrased summary is:
 Cars (1900)Web (1995)
first orderfurther faster than horsepublish existing content onto the Web
second orderbuild US highway systeminteract around content, social networks, …
third ordershopping mallconsumer designs the app; open source; …

Personally, I don't think we have enough perspective yet to see the second- and third-order effects clearly. I'll be writing more about what I think should replace or extend the entries in the highlighted cells.

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