Dan rants: Tools to the miners

After lots of thinking and talking and such I'm convinced that my interactive drama dreams aren't a short term solution to what I want to do with my life. So I'm looking around for what to do next, and I'm fairly convinced that it's going to involve building equity in a small company, probably a startup.

I see a lot of parallels from the 'net stocks of the 1990s and the gold rush of the 1850s. I see a lot of money rumored to be around, and a few high flyers, but when I look deeper I see dilution that makes all that money not what it seems. I see people abandoning other projects to come dig for gold. I see economic models that aren't sustainable, and so the technology will have to be built to make implementation possible.

The people who got rich and stayed rich in the gold rush were the ones who sold tools to the miners. The ones who built the infrastructure that made it possible for the glory seekers to head for the hills.

As I look around at many web sites I see outdated pages. I see basic maintenance not done, and many of these tasks could be automated.

I see some opportunities.

Now Userland's Frontier attempts to fill some of these niches, and there are other products, but I think that there's an opportunity for software that better presents and manages existing data and interfaces to the web, in some ways an extension of newwwsboy , and in some way a paradigm that I haven't discovered yet.

As I said, I'm not sure what the interface is. But I know that Good Vibrations has all the information necessary to keep the "upcoming events" list on their "what's new" page updated to match what hasn't yet occurred on their "events calendar", but the human in the loop forgets. And I'm thinking that this is quite a common problem, but because we've come to thinking of building sites as custom installations we haven't addressed it yet.

So I want to build a new tool. I want it to have no user interface. I want it to install into an existing system and take care of this stuff. I don't know how I'm going to go about building it, but the information is there, it's just a conceptual issue that I'm missing.

Anybody want to share ideas? At the very least you might get a tool to help you build your own web site more easily.

Wednesday, July 07th, 1999 danlyke@flutterby.com