Monday, February 8, 2010

In Praise of Unsafe Research

From "Nature's Numbers" (by Ian Stewart):

... goal-oriented research can only deliver so much. You have to be able to see the goal in order to aim at it. But anything you can see, your competitors can see too. The pursuance of safe research will impoverish us all.

In marketing I think this is called a "niche" - find an area undeveloped by others, and exploit it.

I look back on various applications I've written, and without a doubt, the most exciting ones have arisen from an original thought to "play" with computing technology.

I can make money when someone approaches me with a problem.

But I make the most money when I can respond with "I have a unique and cost-effective solution to that problem", and reach to take some of my inventory, stockpiled through R&D, off the shelf.

How about you?

No wait! There's more!

There is nothing wrong with goal-oriented research as a way of achieving specific feasible goals. But the dreamers and mavericks must be allowed some free rein too.

I'm proud to sign myself "Maverick", of Toronto.

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