OPPORTUNITIES BEFORE EFFICIENCIES

Every opportunity seized…

…launches at least two new opportunities.

The entire web is an opportunity dynamo. More than 320 million web pages have been created in the first five years of the web’s existence. Each day 1.5 million new pages of all types are added. The number of web sites–now at 1 million–is doubling every 8 months. (Think lily pond!) A single opportunity seized in 1989 by a bored researcher began this entrepreneurial bloom. It is not the lily leaf that is expanding now, but the lily pond itself.

The number of opportunities, like the number of ideas, are limitless. Both are created combinatorially in the way words are. You can combine and recombine the same 26 letters to write an infinite number of books. The more components you begin with, the faster the total possible combinations ramp up to astronomical numbers. Paul Romer, an economist working on the nature of economic growth, points out that the number of possible arrangements of bits on a CD is about 10^ billion. Each arrangement would be a unique piece of software or music. But this number is so huge there aren’t enough atoms in the universe to physically make that many CDs, even subtracting all the duds that are just random noise.

 

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This is a blog version of a book of mine first published in 1998. I am re-issuing it (two posts per week) unaltered on its 10th anniversary. Comments welcomed. More details here.
-- KK