April 17, 2007
Marc Hedlund offered some unique advice to web entrepreneurs last month:
One of my favorite business model suggestions for [web] entrepreneurs is to find an old UNIX command that hasn't yet been implemented on the web, and fix that.
To illustrate, Marc provides a list of UNIX commands with their corresponding web implementations:
Jason Kottke noted that most successful "new" business models on the web aren't new at all-- they're simply taking what was once private and making it public and permanent:
Blogger = public email messages. (1999) Instead of "Dear Bob, Check out this movie." it's "Dear People I May or May Not Know Who Are Interested in Film Noir, check out this movie. If you like it, maybe we can be friends."
Flickr = public photo sharing. (2004) Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake said in a recent interview: "When we started the company, there were dozens of other photosharing companies such as Shutterfly, but on those sites there was no such thing as a public photograph -- it didn't even exist as a concept -- so the idea of something 'public' changed the whole idea of Flickr."
YouTube = public home videos. (2005) Bob Saget was onto something.
Twitter = public IM. (2006) I don't think it's any coincidence that one of the people responsible for Blogger is also responsible for Twitter.
But you don't have to found a new Web 2.0 company to benefit from the power of public information. Even brick and mortar companies are finally realizing that the age-old principle of "secret by default" may not be the best policy today:
Companies used to assume that details about their internal workings were valuable precisely because they were secret. If you were cagey about your plans, you had the upper hand; if you kept your next big idea to yourself, people couldn't steal it. Now, billion- dollar ideas come to CEOs who give them away; corporations that publicize their failings grow stronger. Power comes not from your Rolodex but from how many bloggers link to you - and everyone trembles before search engine rankings.
Power, it seems, comes from public information. Secrets are only a source of powerlessness. Just ask Brad Abrams, who poses this rhetorical question:
If no one knows you did X, did you really get all the benefits for doing X?
I think Brad is being a bit too cautious here. I'll go one step further. Until you've..
- Written a blog entry about X
- Posted Flickr photos of X
- Uploaded a video of X to YouTube
- Typed a Twitter message about X
.. did X really happen at all?
This is not to say we should fill the world with noise on every mundane aspect of our existence. But who decides what is mundane? Who decides what is interesting? Everything's interesting to someone, even if that someone is only you and a few other people in the world.
It's my firm belief that the inclusionists are winning. We live in a world of infinitely searchable micro-content, and every contribution, however small, enriches all of us. But more selfishly, if you're interested in deriving maximum benefit from your work, there's no substitute for making it public and findable. Obscurity sucks. But obscurity by choice is irrational. When in doubt, make it public.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
In other words, if a tree falls in the woods and nobody twitters it, it didn't happen? ;)
I love that Unix command analogy. The question is, which commands haven't been implemented yet?
I'll take it that your advice doesn't necessarily apply to the visibility of class members, right ? :)
PS: Although I'm sure someone out there will make the case for classes with only public members.
rm -r *
Please! The sooner the better!
chown! I can see the websites going up already :) and then suddenly dying, because someone chown'd them :D
Thank goodness, I thought this was going to be some questionable OOP advice. :D Good points on the actual article though, heh.
To amend Rock Howard's request:
rm -rf http://myspace*
joking aside, there are lots of web-based whois sites as well as sites that will ping your ports to see which ports are open to the world. that's like nmap and whois.
A couple of thoughts:
1) Just because we (including myself in that) think something is cool because it's on a blog, on flickr, youtube, twitter, etc. doesn't mean the general population does. And I'm not saying these types of things won't grow in popularity, but right now, what's the market penetration of these services? I'm sure it's not as high as I probably think it is. In other words, do us techies live in our own bubble? Honest question, not a flame. And while I say that, I think this stuff is cool, although I still don't *get* twitter - I just have too much to do and not enough time to write about everything.
2)At the same time I state #1, it just proves that no matter what sort of freaky, weird, mundane, or obscure thing you're into, the internet is good to find the other two people that dig(g) it, too!
chown also exist as Web version - eBay.
telnet mud.college.edu 4444 == WorldofWarcraft
Definitely, and it's a positive feedback loop; the more information is public, the more platforms there is to create and publish information, the more new tools can attach themselves to that system and improve it, either by making it easier to add information or find it.
i agree. Coke and Pepsi should opensource their sugar water drink and make it public.
The problem of "public everything" that everyone can do it. And really professional content\service just sinks in tons of mediocrity.
And if you look on current "state of the Internet" - millions of schoolgirls\boys writing in public blogs about their "x day in camp". And relation Pro/Mediocre tent to zero. In this case - how "X day in camp" enriches you all ? How it enriches search engines just filling index pages with crappy bunch of letters? Dont waste your brain-space to fill with such useless data. You all usually have much better things to read and to think about.
Surely there is some public data that enriches the world - ex. human genome decoding or public results about any cure. but this content produced by pro's and usually for pro's. This content proven\checked and usually get from hard scientists work or at least from any work. But now Internet fille#1074; with copy-pasted content, useless blog posts and simular comments (just try notice how often you see a "public" comment like "=)" or "huh" - does it enriches you?). And there is more and more tools that allows all sorts of mediocrity publish theirs mediocre or low-than-mediocre content. Do you like it? "Big fishes" like Google\Yahoo\Microsoft using it to benefit from advertising\popularizing their services - most of time they just dont care about what was written - it's just add some value to theirs stock numbers and they dont really care about "quality" of another million of blogger users.
But looks like Internet content moving in the "public way", surely
millions of lemmings cant be wrong. If this will continue - just read Orwell's "1984" and you will see future of the internet\world.
P.S: I just read "Inclusionists versus deletionists" and now Im strong convinced deletionist
P.P.S: Sorry for my bad english or typos - this isn't native language for me.
Wow, this is the meme that keeps on giving.
I think you have two of the examples flipped -- LISTSERV : Yahoo! Groups :: rn : Bloglines.
The chown : eBay one mentioned in the comments here and on the original post is my favorite.
Hahaha... you just discovered the basic concept behind the open source paradigm, congrats!!
I love this site and its contents
every day (or so) i find something new and exciting to read here
Thanks for the effort
slocate = stumbleupon
and rm -rf as David wrote. Still laughing.
That Gauss didn't publish his discovery of non-Euclidean geometries doesn't mean it didn't happen, it just makes him a weenie for all time!
nothing is new under the sun, web2.0 till now not created something completely new. The most successful apps took some of interesting/popular stuff that folks already did : messaging/personal media storage etc', and made it
good article , thanks Jeff for all the good stuff around here
Just because we (including myself in that) think something is cool because it's on a blog, on flickr, youtube, twitter, etc. doesn't mean the general population does.
You may want to read this article then:
Hits the same nail, me thinks.
"I think Brad is being a bit too cautious here. I'll go one step further. Until you've..
Written a blog entry about X
Posted Flickr photos of X
Uploaded a video of X to YouTube
Typed a Twitter message about X
.. did X really happen at all?"
Yes. Nobody gives a flying damn in a circus tent about what I had for lunch yesterday, or what it looked like 8 hours later hitting the water. Regardless of my not blogging, Twittering, and videoing it, the events still happened. (This is not some clever Zen/Heisenberg thing we're discussing, after all.)
The problem here is that the particular philosophy espoused above convinces people that the excruciating minutiae of their individual lives are interesting in a compelling way.
Everybody eats. Everybody poops. (There's a book written about that.) Everybody breathes, farts, reads (or not), goes to work/school/daycare/etc., and frankly, it's just not that interesting. Sorry, folks. What you do on a daily basis is only interesting to you and your grandmother. (And she's interested because she *has* to be--it's genetic.)
It's as if people don't just want to feel that they're starring in the movie about their lives--they feel the need to have tabloid coverage of it as well.
Given the potential negative effects of publicizing too much of one's life online, you'd think people would be more careful--but it turns out we're not so good at that.
Dear Rock Howard:
I enjoyed your comment, but I enjoyed your name even more. Are you a superhero?
How about dd?
dd if=my_nasty_virus of=your_unpatched_server
talk, finger = ICQ? ICQ still exists? Try Jabber/GTalk or even MSN or AIM.
Forget "rm -rf", I'm holding out for "su -" or at least "sudo"
tail = rss
cat = blog comments, feedburner
finger = facebook
ff = google
touch = ? Your Web 2.0 company here!
diff = ? Your Web 2.0 company here!
man = Wikipedia
How true!! That's the best one yet!
You were doing pretty well until you got to the bit about "brick and mortar companies". Out here in the real world where the big money is, secrecy is still alive and well, and will most likely stay that way for the foreseeable future.
Here are some illustrative numbers:
Google, Yahoo and EBay had combined net income of a little under 5 billion dollars last year. Those "big three" are a pretty good proxy for the sector - most of the rest don't make much money and probably never will.
Goldman Sachs Group, which derives the bulk of its profits from "proprietary trading" activities whose details are kept rigorously secret (for good reason), had net income of 9.5 billion. Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch? Another 7.5 billion each. Coke and Pepsi? 5 and 5.6 billion respectively. Closer to home, Microsoft - not exactly a fan of making all its internal details public - had net income of 12.6 billion. Cisco and Intel - around 5 billion each.
"diff = ?"
diff = web.archive.org
Even Podcasts existed in Mexico in the year 1998 or so... There was a radio show you could download each day as an mp3 file!
There isn't not going to be a statue of me eating a ham and cheese sandwich, because it's not important.
But there *could* be, if we had infinite space, and the ability to instantly and easily filter to whatever statues we wanted.
Here's one factor I think you're ignoring: most people are too busy to make anything public.
The minimal amount of effort required to package something up for public consuption is a significant barrier. People that are making things public usually have a reasonable incentive to share, other than "I just ate a sandwich". In the future if everyone is wearing head-cams and everyone has a one-click option to instantly upload the video footage anywhere, that might change. But for now and the forseeable future, making anything public is an effort barrier that 99.9% of people will never cross.
Also, I tend to believe that people generally have a reasonable (not perfect, reasonable) sense of what's interesting and important to others. There's no YouTube for people eating a sandwich, because the vast majority of people wouldn't bother making anything that trivial public. And there's also a disincentive to make crappy things public. If it sucks in public, people will let you know:
"Thanks for putting this online, douchebag"
That's the quote of the decade. Well, this decade, anyway. :)
I had never been to reddit or twitter before today. Reddit I get, people find stories that they find interesting and post them. A slashdot for everyone else I guess. But Twitter, WTF? is it really what it looked liked? People posting from their phones that "I'm on the 95 stuck in traffic" and other random thoughts. Maybe I'm hitting the grumpy old man stage of life (38) but is this supposed to be interesting? Someone fill me in what the point is...
And really professional content\service just sinks in tons of mediocrity.
Not if you believe in the TrustRank/PageRank fairy.
The mediocre content will eventually outnumber the good stuff by a 1,000,000:1 ratio instead of, say, the 100,000:1 ratio we have today. But I don't see that as a significant difference.
Twitter is the Internet version of EMI...it's all noise, no signal.
The Wet Pets ad, though, is a brilliant example of public-everything.
Wet Pets is a local pet store here in California, but I think the ad is entertaining no matter where you live.
rm = add blocking software
I've dreamt two more:
login, passwd, whoami = OpenID
rm = RIAA
Flickr may have been 2004, but public photo sharing was alive and well in 2000 on Webshots when I first joined it.
People tend to look confused when you explain that this "new" thing has been around for ages. Like when IM became big a few years ago. I've been using it for 20 years, it used to be called 'talk'.
Anyway, great suggestion. Perhaps I'll implement /bin/false or something :)
You mustn't forget this one:
ps2pdf == ps2pdf.com
Jeff, thought you might like to know, Ray Ozzie is picking up your vibe:
Seems to me that Google is just a hair away from something like this with their Google Notebook. Combine the shared notebook with an RSS feed (as they've done in Google Reader), and I think they'd be just about there.
Interesting ideas. But as a programmer, one might say that all of those examples make something that was private not public, but protected. A picture published on Flickr is available for everyone... through the Flickr site. Making it really public would allow us to put a picture and description 'out there' on the web and allow anyone to access it using any interface of their choosing. Which is, to my understanding, also what the semantic web envisions for Web 3.0.
And to make the link another one of Jef's blog posts (http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000842.html): if that happens, there might be much service providing billionaires too.
It's a good article I understand the business ideas is more useful to people If you are interesting. Who are the world’s most influential business thinkers alive today. Who are interesting visit the site a herf:"http://www.ideacenter.com/"business ideas/a
I just wanted to let you know that in your font, "r n" looks a lot like the letter m.
wow, that's taking it a long way ... there's going public and then there are the secrets. to just throw anything that seems to be obscure to you in the open is very radical. not sure how much I would enjoy being confronted with anybody's dirty laundry all the time.
a bit of both; be out there, but don't throw just everything out there; behave :)
ok I'll play:
finger .plan == blogger and the rest of the blogosphere
rn == slashdot/digg (if you think about it this is more sensible than bloglines as an analogy)
vi == Writely
ftp == BitTorrent
I went to Blimpie today and had a ham and cheese sandwich. I just took a picture of it, video taped myself eating it, and will type up a short synopsis of it on Twitter. After that my hunger will go away. I hope!
Things are public for a reason, because they are *important*. If I go to a park and see a statue of someone, its probably because they did something meaningful, like founding the town or something similiar. There isn't not going to be a statue of me eating a ham and cheese sandwich, because it's not important.
The YouTubes, Twitters, Flickrs, etc of the world empower the average Joe to feel important. Look at my video on YouTube! Look at my picture on Flickr! Notice me! I am important.
There is nothing wrong with that, however, should I be wasting my time taking the picture of the ham and cheese sandwich? Doing the video tape of the eating of the sandwich, etc? That's an individual choice. I do think we (general population) are posting items of little social value or worth. But we have the technology and hard drive space, so lets fill them up.
Most of the stuff up there isn't that important and the majority of it can probably deleted, but when you give someone the ability to reach the masses, it will always be popular because that's human nature and everyone wants to be noticed.
Maybe people are too busy to make things public, but they are not too busy to view it or comment on it. How are these sites so popular? People are obviously logging on to view content. Reality TV, etc. People love to watch.
Anyway, even something as crappy as the Wet Pets driveby still got 4860 views (myself included) plus 2 negative responses. Plus negative can sometimes be good, just ask William Hung.
Too much noise out there. Just shoot me if I am ever wearing a video headcam.
@Kevin "which commands haven't been implemented yet?"
GZIP and BZIP2, and the other compressors are the only ones I can think of. Google is almost there, but you can't gzip/bzip2 files online though a Google search prompt.