Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The software industry ain't what it used to be ...

I'm sure Michael Kanello's article on CNET is going to lead to lots of rebuttals along the lines of "You're crazy, innovation in software is just beginning !", but I have to agree with him when he says

"By comparison, information technology as a field in itself has become somewhat less interesting. Maybe not dull, but it seems to have hit a plateau of excitement after three decades of stupendous accomplishments. [...] Don't get me wrong. IT companies will continue to generate interesting products, but the spotlight seems to be moving elsewhere."

I guess my main issue with IT/software industry at the moment is that while I believe they will continue to produce some redefining-how-a-lot-of-the-world-operates technologies [think the Web, email, Google, Ebay], my gut feel is that those will be relatively few and far between. And it's not obvious at all to me what the next such technology will be. Things like collaboration software, better user interfaces, devices [phones, handhelds, music players] etc are cool, but they're not exactly earth-shattering.

On the other hand, you have fields like nanotech and biotech that are still so full of promise that you could pretty much blindfold yourself and throw darts at a list of things being pursued and have an excellent chance of hitting something that, if it works out, will have an enormous impact. Given my desire to work on something that knocks people's socks off, I like those odds a lot better than hoping I happen to be at exactly the right place at the right time in the software industry to participate in one of those category-redefining shifts.

Of course, I'm also the guy who said "Why on earth would anybody buy a book about the Internet ? That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard !" back in '94 so my track record for technology prognostication isn't something a smart betting man would put money on.


Blogger Affable said...

I've slowly come to the same realization. Back when computers were really hitting the mainstream, it was hard to imagine a part of life they wouldn't dramatically transform. "Imagine, someday everyone will have one!" Well, now most everyone (OK, in first world nations) has one or access to one, and what has it changed? Communications have been transformed, that's a biggie, but what else? accounting, writing memo's, and playing games: these are nitches, and otherwise my day-to-day life feels the same. I had Gibson-esque dreams of the future. I guess it's time to start thinking about what Biotech will do for us, since computing seems about done...

3:13 AM  

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