Haven't written in a while. So figured I'd put a thinking piece to spur a dialogue.
Why is it so hard to predict disruption? I don't know, but it sure is easy to do monday morning quarterbacking about disruption, after it happened (this is an american phrase I like that refers to sunday night football games; it's easy to say what the quarterback had to do when it's monday morning, after the game was played the night before; nevermind, I probably got this wrong, as I'm not from the US).
So who would have said that search was going to be so important? In fact, who would have said in the early 80's that OS's were going to be so important... I'm sure IBM didn't, or they would have tried to keep it.
See, what's interesting is that when the game is being played, you think what counts is something else. Only to realize the next day that you missed something critical. IBM thought it was about the hardware. So they didn't mind not keeping the OS on the desktops (only to find years later they were paying attention to the wrong thing, the hardware got commoditized). And for a while, everyone thought/thinks it is about the OS, but maybe this is getting commoditized (isn't it about the web now?). Who knows... Netscape thought it was the server software, actually they had the whole stack, the server software, the destination site (netscape.com), and the browser on your desktop... but they made money out of server software, do you know what software is running these webpages you are reading (is it Php?)? Do you care?
I'm still confused how no one in the late 90's realized how bad search technology was and how big an opportunity it would become. I remember using search then and finding all kinds of horrible pages in the results, it was unusable, so you went to directories because that was the only reliable thing around. But the web got bigger, a lot bigger, and directories didn't scale to cover the entire web. So people stopped using directories and started using search. And now people stopped using bookmarks (when was the last time you bookmarked something), and rely on the search box.
Are we not noticing something as broken today? How come these things are so invisible in the present and so obvious after the fact? Does this post have a point? Kind of. Maybe not. Maybe this is just hard.
But when you are playing the game, you got to keep focused. And do the things that make sense, that make a difference to users, that create value. That, at least, makes sense to me. Just focus on that.