That’s just a toy

It is unquestionably true that many of the most important technology advances looked like toys at first – the web, mobile phones, PCs, aircraft, cars and even hot and cold running water at one stage looked like faddish toys for the rich or the young. Even video games, which literally are toys, are also largely responsible for the GPUs that now power the take-off of machine learning. But it’s also unquestionably true that there were always lots of things that looked like toys and never did become anything more. So how do we tell? Is it that ‘toys’ occasionally turn into something else through some unpredictable chance? Do we throw up our hands and shrug? …
The question, then, is not whether something works now but whether it could work – whether you know how to change it. Saying ‘it doesn’t work, today’ has no value, but saying ‘yes, but everything didn’t work once’ also has no value. Rather, do you have a roadmap? Do you know what to do next?

Ben Evans

The OSS industry is generally awash with technological innovation from software, middleware, hardware, processes, etc. There are many new things to try on a new / improved OSS, but how to know whether what you’re investing in for the 10-ish year lifecycle of your OSS is the next hula hoop or hot/cold running water?

Ben Evan’s blog (see full article via the link above) gives a fascinating framework for sorting the fads from the breakthroughs. It’s another in a long list of brilliant articles from this author and well worth the read if you’re looking at developing or investing in the next big thing.

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