The Missing Future

Eric Kidd writes about the future that awaits software programmers:

I’m a 27-year-old programmer. When I’m 55–in 2031–I want to still be a programmer. And in 2031, I want to love my job as much as I do today. What will 2031 look like? Right now, two groups are offering their visions for the future: Microsoft and the open source movement. A third group is conspicuously silent: small, independent developers. What do the Microsoft and open source futures look like? Will the independent developers speak up? Which future should I fight for? My choices, and the choices of hundreds of thousands of people like me, will help determine which future we get.

The Microsoft future can only end in two ways: The grey death of total platform monopoly, or the sucking pit of government regulation. I don’t want either choice when I’m 55.

The open source future is lacking in entrepreneurial zest and multi-million dollar fortunes. But it’s a lot more appealing than the Microsoft vision. I think I could live with the open source future when I’m 55.

The small companies offer me no visions. They can’t build platforms; they can’t challenge Microsoft, and if they keep squabbling with each other, they can’t even create simple standards. The press and the business world won’t even look at their technology until after it has been co-opted by the big players…If you want my support, and the support of others like me, propose a vision. Show me you can co-operate, show me you can build platforms, and show me you can drive back Microsoft without becoming the next Microsoft. Tell me a tale of 2031, and what I’ll be doing when I’m 55.

A very well-written article which had as one of its premise a simple question: “What if I’ve got a great new idea, and I want to change the world?” Here’s my take on it: I think the small software developers (and I run one such outfit in Mumbai) can indeed make a difference. We are trying to do just that with our work on Emergic, BlogStreet and Info Aggregator. It isn’t easy, but if one is determined and willing to look at markets outside the US (the emerging markets like India), then there is plenty of opportunity.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.