Economic thinkwork to be done (updated 2003-07-14)ΒΆ

Tags: aec

I keep finding talks and interviews that prod me saying "you should do some economic/strategic thinking".

The most recent article is an eWeek interview with Tim O'Reilly about the future of open source (the first two pages of the article). Hardware is already a commodity and much software is increasingly becoming so. I mean, you can download a complete free office application (openoffice). Nobody 's going to invest in a company claiming to build a new great commercial word processing application. That 's just rapidly becoming a common good.

With more and more things being pushed into the "generally available" layer, choosing a field where you can still make money is something that has to be done very carefully. A central piece of the semantic web are the ontologies, specialised vocabularies for certain fields. Like an ontology for doors and windows. Or for painting. Or for steel structures.

In 5 to 10 years, ontologies like that are probably available for every major field. But, as a lot of applications will be using them, they'll have probably been pushed into the commodity layer by then. Which means there isn't a great deal of money to be made by them.

But on the other hand, creating those ontologies can take a lot of effort and may cost a lot of money. How to recap all that money? What innovative service to build on top of it?


Also: I'm quite comfortable with the idea of the internet and web applications. But a recent weblog entry by Tim O'Reilly (again) takes it a bit (ehem...) further...

More thinkwork... What do I need to look at and what can I leave for the moment.

One thing I can almost smell being installed next year on many building sites: wireless LANs (WiFi). The supervisor trotting along on the building site with his (ruggedised) laptop, downloading information, filing reports, looking at the most recent (downloaded) drawings, etc. Small investment, great return (I think).

And once he'll be walking around with a laptop anyway there 'll be a huge window of opportunity for other internetted aplications!


This post talks about building services on top of commodity software products. You can also read "commodity ontologies", I guess.

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My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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