Using the Web for fun and profit…

I was recently in a discussion with some friends about Web 2.0 and what that all meant along with recently finishing a search for a hosting company for our dedicated servers.  The two conversations actually led me to do alot of research and to alot of conclusions about the “next big thing” and how to get in front of it.

What follows are some opinions, advice and ruminations about the convergence of the two events:

As far as the next big thing, I think Web 2.0 is part of it.  Web 2.0 being the idea that the web is great, but the real gold in this next round is taking data from the web and other sources and combining it in interesting ways that results in extended value.  Like taking mapping data which is all the rage and tying into it for realtors so that prospective buyers can see not only maps, but see schools and stores and crime statistics.  The data isn’t original as much as combined in an original way that adds value.  It takes a mature Internet (Web 1.0) for Web 2.0 offerings to be practical and that is the age in which we live.  When asked what the next big thing was my answers were things like robotics (especially in the military and law enforcement), commercial space operations, anti-biotic measures and other pharmacology rather than Internet or even computer technologies. 

But when you think of it, you could build systems that are geared toward the above growth industries which is the traditional approach (that is where the high dollar demand will be) or we can combine data with functionality that wasn’t possible (or feasible) 2 years ago (ala the buzz word Web 2.0).

My point is that the two are related.  You can revolutionize the horse drawn buggy whip industry with a Web 2.0 approach to data integration, but you won’t get rich on it.  Another hazard is to not play where you will get crushed by the capital intensive crowd when the world sees you are making noise (think niche).  The real danger lies in the lesson of experience in that every time I hear about a business proposal in an area that is not my field of expertise it sounds so easy (“what an opportunity”), but when you dig into the details you see all the complexities and barriers to entry under the skin.

Based on my own analysis, I am best suited either looking for a security offering to the growth industries or providing a value added service that pivots on security or finding a security product / service to build that leverages far flung data and innovative delivery (SOA). 

Relative to the web hosting side of this, you have to take your idea and get it built without going broke and get traffic and attention without hitting the same obstacle (going broke).

In my searches for a reliable hosting company I found one that I like and that has worked well for us since we adopted it (we are starting to move more servers based on our initial success).  The company is
SRAWeb.Net which is very good on the Dedicated Server side of things.  If you built your own Web 2.0 solution you could host it at a company like SRAWeb (or any other for that matter) and provide your service in the pilot phase on the cheap.  I really like the idea of keeping start up costs as low as possible.

Once you get the process going, it is a treadmill and again if you haven’t done it, it really does sound easy until you dig into the details.  Just get the search engines to send you traffic, all it takes is some SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  I have made SEO a bit of a hobby and find sites like
WebHostingFacts.Net very direct in their advice since it isn’t selling services (which are almost always overrated), but instead just gives advice.

The bottom line is that having a great idea is just the first step, it takes alot to get the get rich quick scheme to actually work.  Luck is a mandatory and completely unpredictable ingredient as well.  If you are upset that you missed that last big gravy train during the Dot Com bubble then think long and hard about the points I bring up here.  The rumble of the next big thing is upon us.