The Internet is an incredible wealth of information; somewhere out there is an answer to every question. Often when I use it, I find myself riddled with guilt. I know in my heart that it’s better to give than to receive, and with the Internet I’m a habitual receiver. Whenever I try to give back, I discover that my pearls of wisdom are already there. I often wonder where it all comes from. An Internet-generated answer is a bit like a bubble bursting on the surface of a lake – it is easy to imagine that it must have come from somewhere, but impossible to trace back to the depths of its origin.
Not only is this Internet a vast body of useful material, it also has the power to pull it together with humans in interesting and useful ways. Analysis of the Internet itself can be accomplished with a free open-source tool, Wireshark, which is cooperatively shared and improved by user-volunteers. Kaggle attacks Big Data analysis by appealing to statistician egos and engaging them to compete for prizes. Internet-based social media tools can instigate the formation of flash mobs – spontaneous gatherings of people who might dance, sing, or protest at a pre-agreed time and place. Still, I feel guilty for not contributing.
Here’s an idea I haven’t seen yet. What if we had “flash startups” – spontaneous gatherings of technical talent who were motivated to work on an exciting problem for mundane things like ego, fame, and the satisfaction of doing something new and impactful. These open-source companies will be funded by Kickstarter. All that’s needed is an idea, but the Internet has lots of those.
I feel better already.