I’m obsessed with the future. Recognition and projection of future opportunities consume a vast amount of my waking time. The process I take is a meticulous: rigorously understanding current technologies and the implications those developments will afford to the birth of new industries.
But I often find value in understanding the past, too. Historical precedent is often a good indicator of what will come after: everything old is new again,the answers lie in using the old to interpret the new. The true voyage of discovery is not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes.
History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.
That’s how I analyze what I’m looking at: I understand by distilling a complicated idea into a metaphor for the past.
Netflix is like TV but when you want to watch it.
Twitter is like blogging but only 140 characters.
Instagram is like your camera but with filters.
Whatsapp is like SMS but free.
Uber is like other taxi companies but with an app.
Airbnb is like a hotel but from other people.
What this analysis uncovers is a reinterpretations of existing models in new,innovative ways. There is nothing breath-taking about any of them on their own. In retrospect, they all seem obvious — but that’s their beauty. We feel like anyone could have developed them.
Their simplicity is what is so challenging. The general consensus is that great ideas are incredibly hard. The opposite could not be truer.
The most valuable things are often the simplest; they address the confounding frustrations of everyday life. Repeating the above exercise marries the idea to the problems they solve.
I want to watch X but it’s not on TV.
I want to blog but it’s too much effort.
I want to share pictures but they’re not beautiful.
I want to contact my family but it costs too much.
I want a taxi but I can’t wait for it.
I want a hotel but there are no free rooms.