Organic Ideas

There’s something really interesting happening on the Internet.

Ideas are being hurled; concepts are being tested and proven; problems are being solved in real and tangible ways. To date, the “best practices” of your IBM’s and Accenture’s have wholly dominated the realm of technology solutions. That is changing.

What we’re witnessing is a paradigm shift in how a real technology trend can materialize. Whereas in the past, the “next big thing” was introduced by your big players – Microsoft, Sun, etc., and validated by your industry watchers – Gartner, Forrester, etc., today an environment has arisen where ideas arise organically and catch fire.

Need proof? Just follow the technology news sites, rather than regurgitating press releases, they are reporting on these grass-roots trends that are materializing. Beyond the media, you’re starting to see major players that once defined spaces, now jumping on board after-the-fact.

A great example of this is the growing popularity of REST as a web services protocol. Before REST, the darling of web services was WSDL/SOAP. It was blessed by Microsoft, Sun and the standards groups after all. But the masses would have none of it. REST – more an approach than a technology – caught fire. The hundreds of millions of dollars that the big boys poured into marketing web services could not stem the tide. REST made sense and the masses adopted it.

What’s worth nothing is the nature of these trends. They’re hardly strictly-defined technologies backed by long-winded specifications. Instead, they often encompass a broadly defined approach. REST is one example. Ajax is another. There are no ten month reviews at the W3C. No “working drafts.” And above all else, nobody needs to wait for a big player like Microsoft to implement anything.

In reality, these ideas hardly permeate the Enterprise because (a) most people are caught up in helping run an Enterprise and are out of touch and (b) most managers are averse to trying out some idea that showed up on a blog rather than simply buying something that is backed by some sort of “Gold Standard” technical support.

Regardless, it is fascinating to watch. It is, in effect, capitalism applied to a free market of ideas. Some win, some lose but the nature of the market dictates what gets elevated. The result are solutions that are purer than those tainted by a corporate stamp. There is order in the chaos after all.



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