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The Next Big Thing

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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.

Another tip, create a military application of your technology– It helps Wall Street appreciate the magnitude of your idea. The government only funds large, expensive projects, so militarizing your idea will give Wall Street an instant warm fuzzy.

Fear is another important aspect of the Next Big Thing. You need to spread fear that others will be ‘Left Behind’ by not supporting your idea. No one wants to fall behind, and fewer still want to be immediately left of behind. That’s no good. Even though you’d think you could see better than being Right Behind, you can’t.

A further look at the Ipv6 article:

It could be the most significant development for IT spending and government sales since the Y2K threat loomed large at federal agencies, industry insiders say: Imagine a soldier in a war zone taking misfire information from his weapon and feeding it directly into his Web-connected handheld computer, sending an alert out to his command post, and saving lives in the process.

A little later:

Frankly, the industry is getting a bit giddy in anticipation.

The IPv6 guys are on the right track. They’ve managed to combine future vision, disasters of the past and military applications into one sentence.

Finally, you need to start the hype for your product at just the right time– not too soon, and not too late. Consider High Definition TV. The hype around HDTV has been too gradual, we’ll all be sick and tired of HDTV by the time it hits 30% market share.

So remember, when defining your Next Big Thing: pick a big name, solve a mystery, make sure its sci-fi with government funding, spread the fear, and don’t hype too soon. That is, unless you want to make a killing without actually making anything.

Half Baked

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  • Not to burst your bubble (oh, wait, that .whatever bubble already burst), but in the “New New Thing”, the reason Jim Clark took Netscape public was so he could build a boat with a taller mast than somebody else.

    The singularity isn’t going to happen as a result of pissing contests.

  • Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been off in London at a bubble convention, where I’ve restocked supplies, so don’t worry (too much) about the one you’ve broken.

    As for singularities, now that the plurality of black holes have proven non-singular, there is a far sight fewer of them. And I agree, more are not likely to be generated by any amount of pissing. If I get your meaning.