In a country where ‘long term’ is 4 years (if you keep your hands off the interns), it’s no surprise that getting together the capital to invest in long term infrastructure is almost impossible. However, if you have the ‘Next Big Thing’ you can potentially raise billions. Is IPv6 the Next Big Thing?
[IPv6] shorthand for Internet Protocol Version 6[...] Not only will IPv6 open up a new frontier of interactive communications between devices and the Net, industry experts say, but it will vastly increase the IP address space, a much-needed freeing up of online real estate, given current and anticipated demand.
The first thing to know about defining the Next Big Thing is that the name is very important, IPv6 sounds like a version number (uh, it is). The World Wide Web sounded big, like big ideas should. But the Semantic Web sounds derivative, like a ‘Newer, Brighter Web’.
Think Amazon, the longest river in the world-- that’s big. Amazon women are big too, from what I hear. Who would’ve guessed you could buy books from the Amazon, but I guess that was the clever part of the big idea? Not everyone should be able to figure out the real purpose of a big idea, it needs to be somewhat mysterious.
Solving a mystery appeals to people’s curiosity. For example, was there ever any water on Mars? Could be, maybe not, but we need to spend about 4 gazillion dollars to send someone up there to dowse for H20 in person. What happened in the microseconds after the Big Bang? We need to build a huge atom smasher costing billions that will probably create a new big bang if it ever works. Want to know who created the universe? Some dumb-ass scientist playing with his quantum physics erector set without having the foggiest idea what was going to happen.
The Next Big Thing needs to sound like it came from The Future. Try making something from the movies into a real product: the ‘Star Wars’ defense system; the holodeck from Star Trek; the nuclear submarine (Jules Verne); Peter Pan Peanut Butter—okay, that’s a stretch.
The Next Big Thing must meet the requirement that there are no tangible products using the Next Big Thing, nor are any needed for many years. That’s huge—you’re not thinking big enough if people need your product right now. A good example is the hydrogen fuel cell. Fuel cells seem like magic, they’re used for space stuff-- wouldn’t it be cool if they were in your rocket car? Of course, we won’t have rocket cars for awhile—that’s the whole point.