Monday, October 23, 2017

business vs science: an anecdote

many years ago, when the Web was young, I was talking to an acquaintance - a friend-of-a-friend - a SoCal business person.
They had heard about this new Web thing, and were asking me about what use it was.

Now, if you had asked me, I'd have guessed this was end of '94,  but I checked and it must have been the summer of '95.

I had just seen Kelson and Trager order pizza on the web, so clearly I was an expert, but my acquaintance wanted to know if this Web thing could be used to help sell cars - not directly, SSL 3.0 had not been implemented yet, but to show models continuously, update inventory, specs, pricing etc.

I opined, "sure, why not", seemed like it'd be a good fit, and I would explore how feasible this might be.  So I searched (this was before google so AltaVista probably...[sigh]) and discovered that Edmunds had already done this.

At this point there was a bifurcation:  my acquaintance was very excited, this was clearly a proven concept and much more interesting than they had appreciated, and would I be interested in working with them on this;  and I was totally not interested,  somebody had done it, it was not new, booooring.

This was a revelation for me.  The concept was only interesting to me when it was new and innovative and unproven. Soon as I discovered it had been done and worked, I become disinterested.
My acquaintance, the business man, really only became interested when they discovered it was a proven idea already done by a player.

So, they got some SoCal hack to put up a website and sold more cars, and got even more rich,
and I went off to think about black hole and shit.

Learned something.


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