Stop competing, we’re made to collaborate.
Lately I’ve been asking myself why so many new startups today do not seem so « revolutionary ». Back in the days, it felt like we couldn’t spend a week before seeing a major innovation brought about by young entrepreneurs who were trying to trigger big change. How to keep two persons in touch, however apart they may be ? How could we communicate easier ? How to learn ? Would it be possible to collaborate on the web ? Could we find love ?
I used to be in awe for these startups, in the sense that they actually were changing the world with a fierce will and a vision. For the better, to help people.
Now it feels like we lost that spark somewhere along the way. We see a lot more of questionable technological challenges like how to pay with your eye, how to consume more thanks to new algorithms and behavior-targeted ads, how to track through wireless devices… Or useless trivial challenges like how to have pizza delivery by bike, how to cheat on your wife or spread a gossip. A lot of startups are actually just copying each other now, bringing nothing new but gadget functionalities and a new design to something we had been using already from a former app or service. The gaming industry is not helping either, simply replace your old dots with candies and people will go nuts. Marketing is taking over Innovation.
The startup industry is going through a “bubble” craze, a senseless gold rush, a new american dream.
I’m certainly not saying that major innovations don’t happen anymore, but it seems like they come in fewer numbers compared to the throng of the other ones, and most of them are not even helping so much. Some innovative startups are trying to be so ahead of their times that they don’t have much of an impact on our lives or society. Some grow double standards as they start disrupting and then cooperate with the big players already in place. And I won’t get started on those which are actually threatening people’s lives, jobs or security.
So did we get lazy, soft, too safe ? I actually don’t think so. I want to believe that we all deeply still want to create something that really matters and that will matter now and for a very long time. And we have so many tools and tech these days that the possibilities are almost limitless !
Money is one of the main reasons to me. The pressure of the economy is clearly heavier on the shoulders of present generations. No students would spend his spare time now working on his own project, most of them have to work flipping burgers. Their future is grim, filled with world-ending theories and when they finish up school, they’re anyway so broke and with debt that they have to urge to get a job for the next ten to twenty years or produce a project that pays, and it has to be quick and big. Hackers on their hands, are paid by companies and government agencies to find the cracks in thousands of their code lines. They have a job now.
And our environment isn’t helping too. Competition is clearly one of the most motivational factors pushed in tech entrepreneurship today. We compare how many billions big players are worth, pry on their private life, make movies about them, treat them like gods.
We keep hearing « buzz words » like « Time-to-market » so we get stressed out, or « Unicorns » so we envy these multi-billion companies and just fall over the rainbow. Overly marketed « trends » do most of the thinking for us, « fun » and « hot » pays a lot and the next thing we know, we end up working on an AI that can recognize faces for a buck or promoting sexting and selfies.
People will always say that if anybody’s paying for it, why not do it ? It shows somehow that users really need it, right ?
Sorry, but no.
Maybe when the world is such a happy place with actual unicorns running around, we’ll give it a try. But right now, people need to stay away from the useless and wake up. They don’t need to flash their face or any other part of their body for that matter; they need to learn, to collaborate, to create, to share ideas, to feel, to love.
They don’t need to spend their time in a complete virtual-reality trance with their space goggles on (which really creep me out); they need to create value again with their work, to benefit from it, to have a say on their countries policies, to know their neighbor, to help each other.
And the saddest thing is that the tech we’re using to play games, to have driverless machines or to consume crap, is the one that could really have a shot at healing the world right now. Maybe the only shot, possibly the last one.
We need to find our inspiration, our hunger and our foolishness back. We need to stop competing over services, products and apps for the brain-dead and start collaborating on the real stuff. That road is certainly harder and longer but the easy one is treacherous, and eventually leads to idiocracy.