April 2, 2009

Please, Don't Throw the Sheep

My Mentoring by the Masters post made me think of an article I wanted to share for quite some time - Tim O'Reilly urging developers to stop throwing sheep and do something worthy. HappierHour is not a sheep throwing application. But it is not preventing global warming either.

O'Reilly makes some other observations in the article. He stresses that the United States is getting surpassed in science and technology innovations - American firms are not providing enough value. He also mentions that Wall Street firms capture more value than they create.

Value is something that needs to be in the front of your mind. Always. HappierHour might not cure cancer, but we are providing value to a significant market. I still think the value we provide is valid, but would it pass O'Reilly's test? Not too confident about that one.

Then how on earth are we supposed to tackle large (checkbook-intensive) problems? And the better question is - How do we solve a large world problem with software?

We can't directly solve world problems with software. Software is not the net that stops the spread of malaria or the smart fuels powering hybrids. We need to take it some step further and think of the building blocks that go into solving these issues. Want to map the human genome? Grab your Perl book and get to work.

Through the efficient use of software - large, complicated world problems can be solved. I hope that's what O'Reilly meant when he told us to stop throwing the sheep.

1 comment:

  1. The US getting passed is a real problem. The author of the right-brain book on the book blog saw this and does a good job explaining why. It's scary as a future business employee/owner, but there is some hope, the same thing happened with agriculture (US->everywhere) and manufacturing (US->Asia). We'll just have to think of another value we can provide to the world no one else can (for a while). Exciting times.