September 15, 2010
I’m always amazed when I search for some obscure topic on the Internet and get a perfectly good answer in seconds. I’m just as amazed when I find a hole in what the Internet can tell me. I wonder how different life will be when most of the holes are plugged.
Example: What is the most profitable ***LEGAL*** cash crop that an inexperienced farmer could plant on five flat acres in Northern California? And I want the choices sorted by how much effort is required for each sort of crop. I would accept any answer from windmills to fish farm to tree farm. Google can’t help me with that sort of search. (I was noodling on this question because I have a theory that growing semi-exotic trees would be easy and profitable.)
Suppose you want to find a turnkey web site management company that could handle the servers, the web design, and even the remnant ad networks for you. All you want to do is supply your content, or your business idea. How can you find a list of businesses in that space, sorted by capability and price? Google can get you started, but most people wouldn’t have the knowledge to filter through the options.
Suppose you have an idea for a startup company and you don’t want to quit your job yet because you don’t know if you could bring together the other talent and resources to pull it off. Wouldn’t it be great if you could perform a “hypothetical” search that collects people who would, in theory, be willing to make themselves, or their money, available if you can pull together all of the other parts of your startup? That way no one has to take the first risky step until the company is fully formed in a virtual way. You and your team of conditional future employees can work out the business model details before anyone takes the first risky step. Think of it as Match.com for startups.
I’ve written before on how great it would be if you could easily search for a shared car ride, or for a group of people to play a pickup soccer game in an hour. All of these functions are in some form of existence or evolution, but imagine a world in which the types of searches I described are easy and common.
I think the economy has an unimaginably higher gear in it, and we’ll see that engage when Internet search goes to the next level, maybe in ten years. The world has an abundance of ideas, talent, and resources. The hard part today is searching for the right combinations and matches. What happens when the hard part becomes the easy part? What happens when resources can ALWAYS find each other in a working combination?
Maybe what’s new about what I’m describing is the complexity of the matching, or the timing of it, and so the simple term “search” is inappropriate. It’s more like combining and mixing multiple elements that can only make sense as a whole. I assume we will evolve to that capability.
The future could be utopia, because everyone will easily find what they need, from love to careers. Or it might be the end of civilization because capitalism depends on barriers to entry, and those will disappear when everyone can find whatever resources they need.