Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Timing and Success

Everyone wants to make the next thing, anticipate the curve, set the trend. It's a brave idea, but it may be more like lining up three cherry 7's than playing Stratego.

In a book I recently read about cultural and technological change, the author wrote that "YouTube came along at the perfect time." I think he has it backwards. Really, the perfect time came along when YouTube did, and that's why it was successful. When there are enough random people out there with video content to upload and enough people willing to watch the uploaded content from said random people, someone is going to build a video upload site. The interest was there, as was the infrastructure. All you had to do was tie the knot.

This is not to discredit the genius of Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, but only to point out that an equal genius could also have launched a video-sharing site and simply been a day early or a day late.

Increasingly, this may be how the fates of authors, musicians, and technology developers are decided. Are people ready for what you have to offer? Are they bored with it? Too bad.

"In the Society, real wealth is the ability to say 'I have an idea' and have people agree to work to support it. The rarest coin of the realm is when other people give you chunks of their leisure time.

Losing the confidence that others have in you, that you can make things fun for them, is... bankruptcy."
Mark Schuldenfrei, via David D. Friedman

You need to have enough fans to lift your painting or your book out of the murky depths of obscurity at the perfect moment so more people can see it. Yes, it's a catch-22. And the freight train has grown too big and is moving too fast for anyone to control it now. So keep throwing your penny on the tracks and hope people like it. You might get lucky.

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