Some people grow up wanting to become the world’s greatest football player. Or to make a gazillion dollars. Or to obtain political power. Personally, I am attracted to all things creative. Don’t get me wrong, I am no less vain that everybody else, I like to receive recognition and praise for my work, and if I’ve made something I am proud of, I like to show it off. But the driving force is the process of creating.
I like entrepreneurship because it has combination of artistic freedom combined with ruthless honesty: you have to make something people want. The artistic freedom means that you can design a product that you feel is beautiful. It’s a matter of taste. Some people will agree with you and others will disagree. That is okay. On the other hand, if you design a beautiful product that serves no purpose, you will not be able to sell it. You cannot argue that it’s simply because people don’t understand.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Instagram launched an app called Hyperlapse recently. This app lets you make timelapse videos that look incredibly smooth with your smartphone. When I saw this, I had a combination of feelings: “wow, this is so cool, I can make timelapse videos that look really pro”, immediately followed by “oh, but then, so can everybody else!”
I’ve experienced this before. When I started playing with Ableton Live, a music production app that has time stretching-features that were completely unique at the time it came out. Or when I learned about the content-aware fill feature in photoshop.
In Shenzhen you see close up how the world of manufacturing is being disrupted these days. I realized that this had evoked those same feelings in me: wow, the tools and knowledge is within my reach—I can actually make hardware. You can go to the markets and have components to make a prototype for something before lunch. The many 3D print shops can make custom parts at really low cost. And with a Spark core you can have internet-connected software running in no time. Amazing! And also, available to everybody else. Hm.
Every time technology creates new tools for us, more and more the playing field is leveled. But the only sound conclusion to draw from this is that you still need to stick with what you are doing and keep improving. Because no matter how easy something becomes, people can tell when something took effort and they will appreciate that. There will be good and bad hyperlapse videos. Many hardware startups of today will produce incredibly high quality by yesterdays standards, but those aren’t in play anymore. Skill will not go out of fashion, only the context will change.