OPPORTUNITIES BEFORE EFFICIENCIES

It is this expanding space of opportunities…

…that creates an ongoing economy. It is this boundless open-ended arena for innovations that spurs wealth creation. Like a chain reaction, one well-placed innovation can trigger dozens, if not hundreds, of innovation offspring down the line.

Consider, for example, email. Email is a recent invention that has ignited a frenzy of innovation and opportunity. Each tiny bit of email ingenuity begets several other bits of ingenuity, and they each in turn beget others, and so on compoundfinitum. Unlike a piece of junk mail, an email advertisement costs exactly the same to send to one person or one million people–assuming you have a million addresses. Where does one get a million addresses? People innocently post their addresses all over the net–at the bottom of their home page, or in a posting on a news group, or in a link off an article. These postings suggested an open opportunity to programmers. One of them came up with the idea of a scavenger bot. (A bot, short for robot, is a small bit of code.) A scavenger bot roams the net looking for any phrase containing the email @ sign, assumes it is an address, pockets it, and then compiles lists of these addresses that are sold for $20 per thousand to spammers–the folks who mail unsolicited ads (junk mail) to huge numbers of recipients.

The birth of scavenger bots suddenly created niches for anti-spam bots. Companies that sell internet access seed the net with decoy phony email addresses so that when the addresses are picked up by scavenger bots and used by the spammers, the internet provider will get mail they can track to find out where the spam is coming from. Then the provider blocks the spam from that source for all their customers, which keeps everyone happy and loyal.


Each new invention creates a space from which several more inventions can be created. And from each of those new innovations comes yet more spaces of opportunity.

Naturally, that innovation creates opportunity for yet more innovation. Creative spammers devised technology that allows them to fake their source address; they hijack someone else’s legitimate address to mail spam from and then flee after using it.

Every move generates two countermoves. Every innovation creates an opportunity for two other innovations to succeed by it.

 

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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