Software and otherware

February 3, 2007

-Swami Pavanananda, circa 2007

I was neither born with a laptop and O’Reilly book in my hands, nor am I in computer science (yet), but today I was discussing some of the ifs-and-buts of software industry and its charisma with my friend and it roughly followed this course:

What makes software industry so charismatic, that people make millions (or billions) out of it (ofcourse there are doomed ones too).. it seems so effortless that most think he/she could make the next Google-like product? Everybody has heard of the greener side of this tech boom.. now care to read the other side?

From a mechanical engineer’s perspective, I had stumbled upon various ideas at various stages of my life (including X-ray specs during my hormone-pumping teenage phase) and the closest I could get to an invention was a gun made out of a Jetter pen and geometry-compass that shot out the refill at an amazing speed good enough to hurt the victim, but never got anything conceptualized to a prototype stage or make it business-friendly. There are theories that one should not see the commercial aspect but go with one’s passion, and money would flow in automatically, but things are not always that green.

First, what clicks with software industry? How can one person sitting in a dorm throw some code in for an idea (on the lines of hot-or-not) in Stanford campus, drop out and start Friendster that met with amazing success? Because s/w provides thatflexibility. He had an idea, had the resources (computer, internet and most importantly skills) and made it. All he needed was a site, and even publicity was word-of-mouth.

Let us compare that with non-CS fields. Say, I have an idea, I make the blueprint. I am stuck there. I cant manufacture that item in my basement or backyard. I HAVE to approach some firm (small or big depending upon the needs), get some prototypes made out of my own pocket (or some angel investor, but highly unlikely) and then exhibit to various people before finally selling it to some bigshot like GE. Anyother option? Maybe directly sell the blueprint, but that is where my part/role stops. I could also get absorbed by some company that wants me to work on it further. But I NEVER would get to deliver that product (in part or in full) DIRECTLY to the consumer. There is this HUGE block that is b/w my idea and a potential consumer. I dont get to dictate my terms. It could be a failure or meet with success (just like any s/w), but atleast it should give me ability of tweaking around a s/w or product, so that I can improve and circumvent the big companies. It is mutually beneficial. If I think of a nice feature/software, I could make it and sell/host it somewhere and people could use/buy it.

This is where a good idea can step in and act as a bridge for non-CS streams. Not that I have the next wheel-like-invention ready to be unleashed and claim world domination, but there are many many people who want to monetize their ideas but cant, due to such obstacles.

There should be some way around.. some way.. (other than having a Paypal donate link). Complaining is easy, trying to solve this is interesting.


PJ corner:

Q:What is common between Google and me?

A: my name is Pavan kumar, and kumar means “beta” in hindi.. hence I am Pavan(‘s) beta, beta as in Google.


4 Responses to “Software and otherware”

  1. Sudhakar Says:

    I agree with you, but not completley… On the other hand, If anything goes wrong, it can be screwed faster in software ,but not necessarily the case always in otherwares.

  2. Gini Says:

    Simple solution. Don’t take so much of trouble to come up with brilliant ideas. 😉 😛

  3. Ramanan Says:

    It is slightly easier I think to come up with successful ideas for the intertubes. Most of the succesful ideas have been adaptations (simplifications) of what we do in real life…. like searching or talking or shopping.

    Comparatively it is much tougher to even think of a more effecient mechanical device.

  4. Pavan Says:

    Sudhakar-> yes, the chances are good for both success and failure in s/w but we dont have enough stats/case-studies to substantiate the failure rates of “other-ware”

    Gini-> hehe, true

    Ramanan-> right, but why? lack of tools (say Design/sim tools are not accessible to a mechanic, but that doesnt rule out that he doesnt have a great idea)

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