Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Leverage the Current Position

by Asim Jalis

Continuing with the series of reflections from yesterday. 1. It might be possible to launch a commercial Palm OS library that provides some deeply interesting mathematical features, byte array arithmetic, encryption and so on. 2. Palm is an attractive platform because it is so primitive. Palm's programming problems are still interesting. You can't just throw memory at them and solve them. They require more subtle, more innovative approaches. I like that. 3. A simple way to find opportunities in the Palm space: (a) Look at and other shareware download sites to see what kinds of programs people are selling for Palm. (b) Create a me-too program. 4. Problem with this approach: Most shareware sites sell full applications, not libraries. Selling libraries might require some innovative selling. For example, you might be able to create a library and then directly sell it to companies that are doing Palm development. 5. In that case, if you are selling individually, then it becomes easier to shrink the selling infrastructure. All you need is a website with some marketing spiel, a link to regsoft or regnow, and then good shoes to do all the legwork for doing presentations to various IT groups. 6. However, you may safely ignore all the points from 1-5. The problem with this line of thinking -- in my current view -- is that it does not leverage my current position. Creating something out of nothing is much harder than continuing with what you already have. 7. Instead of starting with a passion -- byte array manipulation, algorithms, and primitive retro applications -- you must first find a vein of prosperity, and then having found it we must hold on to it desperately. Your current work represents such a vein of prosperity. There is obviously money in your work which is why you are employed. At least someone thinks there is money in this. If you take a big leap you risk leaping into a parched desert. 8. The other advantage with continuing with what you have is that the work will be sustainable. You will be forced by the powers around you to continue doing that work. You won't have to struggle to stay interested. 9. The approach I am talking about is to find the vein of prosperity first, and then to find things that are interesting around it. First find the oasis then find a good spot to lie down. Don't first find a good spot to lie down and then check to see if through sheer luck you chose an oasis. 10. The problem with this approach is that it assumes scarcity. The desert is a metaphor for scarcity. What if you are in a rainforest? In that case would you really look for water first? Or would you just find a good spot to sit on and then open your mouth and let the rain fall into it. 11. But why is the desert metaphor so bad? What if we are in an era of scarcity right now? There is some evidence that we might be. In this era of scarcity pretending that we have abundance might be disastrous. 12. The main problem with writing Palm libraries is that the path is too long. Many steps need to be taken. It requires a long investment in many steps. I don't see an easy way to do this. I don't see a way to create something in one day that will be sustainable. 13. Okay, here is another formulation of this issue: the vein of prosperity, my current job, is automatically sustainable. I need to do little work to keep it sustainable. I have to go out of my way to reduce its sustainability. However, the Palm library is not immediately sustainable. It will be initially be like a helpless babe. It will need to be nursed to health and self-sustenance. 14. It is hard to make the investment in the nursing because I can't see the payoff. I cannot see the payoff from where I am now. I am sure there is a payoff. There is a serendipitous payoff way out there somewhere. I just can't see it. 15. The approach I am proposing is to focus on your current work, focus on what you are working on right now, on your current vein. Look for interesting things around it. Then see what happens. 16. What are the primitive, retro, library issues surrounding .NET? .NET is so contrary to my primitive retro interests. It is a violation of my passions. Or is it? There might yet be opportunities for binary data that you have overlooked. Keep looking and working.