The Internet Hammer and the everything Nail

There is an old saying that I try to always remind myself of “When You Have a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail”

Its always very easy, and even more tempting to try to take a utility that is readily available at minimal cost and use it as a technology that is the solution to everything. Has there been any of the world’s ills that someone hasnt suggested can be cured by using the internet ?

From Education to Healthcare to Entertainment to Sports to Security to Corporate everything and just about anything and everything else. If Robitussin cant cure it, the Internet will. Of course the internet was not the first cure all for the worlds ills. The list is long. Im sure for the longest time fire was the cure all, but even in more modern times there is an exciting list.

In no particular order, electricity was a marval, and it benefited from Metcalfe’s Law. Other beneficiaries of the network effect were the telegraph, roads and highways, railroads, airplanes and airports among others. With the exception of the telegraph, all went from technological miracle that reformed the world, to utilities that we can’t live without, but we no long consider amazing. Is there any doubt that businesses and fortunes were built on these and other technologies and that kids coming out of school were considered ahead of the curve if they were educated in the latest and greatest ?

In just the past 20 years, knowing how to program in cobol, fortran and assembly language went from desirable by every major employer and a “great major” in school, to a worthy job, but with a chain to a desk and some really really old code to stare at every day. Database programming was the key to development riches. Its still valuable, but nothing like the opportunities of the 80s. Same can be said of C and Basic.

If you know everything there was to know about Novell networks and Lotus Notes, you could easily earn a living. Today, you better have expanded your skill set.

From Dbase to Clipper to ASP to PHP, scripting languages have built worthy applications on top of the network of choice of their day. The nature of scripting languages is that they always will be replaced by something better at some point. What happens to all those PHP apps in place today ?

No matter what the technology, language or platform, it has a limited shelf life and will use its position as “the Hammer” until it loses it.

For the past 15 years, everyone who “gets it” has tried to use the Internet to fix or create whatever they think “the next big thing ” is. How much longer until there is something new that comes along and makes Web X.0 on the net look old and tired ?

Personally, I think Web 2.0 already is tired. When social networking or Twittering ,applications that are nice to have, but not a need to have, are the best we can do. We ain’t doing much. Lets get real. As much fun as Twittering can be, shouldn’t we all be able to agree that if its the latest and greatest application, the Internet has Jumped the Shark ?

We saw the same thing in the “PC Revolution”. Back in the 80s, we waited anxiously as new desktops came out with ever increasing chips and hard drives, which when combined with ever improving programming languages, created an excitement over new software programs. Yes little Billy, there used to be a time when we wanted to see what new Word Processor or Spreadsheet or Database would come out to topple the incumbent market leader.

There was a time when there was an interesting, if not an exciting battle between Harvard Graphics and Powerpoint. Talk about ancient history. When was the last time you even looked to see if there were any new desktop apps available ? Ok maybe if you are a gamer you care. But thats it.

When was the last time a non gamer even cared about how fast a processor was for desktops and whether or not there were new desktops coming out ? Any excitement we have at all for is reserved for the shrinking of laptops and new hand held phones or devices

The PC Revolution is over. Dead. Its now just the PC Evolution.

Anyone who thinks the same wont happen to the Internet is not paying attention.

Which is exactly why its so much fun to write on this blog and tweak all the internet bigots out there. Yes, all of you who think that the Internet is the ultimate Hammer and that every problem that technology can touch is a nail, you are Internet Bigots.

Me, I believe that all internet sites are created equal, that the world has already moved past the Internet as magic to the internet as utility stage. I believe in morning walks, sipping diet peach snapple, the beauty of a jump shot ripping the cords and that if most of the world thinks the Internet is the Hammer, the solution to everything, that is the exact reason why it is not. I believe that there is something far, far better , that will have far more utility to all of us and is on the tip of the tongue of some kid out there somewhere and I will have a blast looking for it and hopefully finding it first, which will be a lot more fun than trying to compete with Facebook or Google.

In mean time, Im going to enjoy tweaking all the Internet Bigots out there, simply because its fun

One thought on “The Internet Hammer and the everything Nail

  1. Just to let you know – I\’m the kid you were referring to, and it is on the tip of my tongue.

    Comment by mattunger -

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