Image via WikipediaTim Bray, director of web technologies at Sun Microsystems gave what I believe to be the most practical advice I've heard so far for those in startups looking forward. Speaking at FOWA, Tim's blunt view is that we are headed for tough times but that should not blind people to the downside. Instead he offered positive steps that people can take right now. Among the nuggets he offered (as editorialized):
- Capex style applications and projects are a no=no at a time when cash is king. They simply won't be funded.
- Consider innovation for regulatory technologies. My colleagues believe we need less rather than more. Tim shares my belief that we will see a slew of new regulation. Therefore, offering technologies that improve transparency will stand a good chance of adoption.
- Build something for yourself. Tim asserts that some of the best technologies are those that were designed to solve a problem that mattered to the individual. That was the genesis of FreeAgent Central (disclosure: I have a small investment in the company.) Time and again I hear that users love the service because it is built for their needs as freelancers.
- The web is heterogeneous so get over whatever your personal technology religion might be. It doesn't matter and nobody except you cares.
- Contribute to an open source project. OSS are full of holes but if you start to contribute, through bug reports, code or documentation, your reputation will spread. Tim says this is one of the best ways to become known.
The highlights of Tim's talk (about 13 mins) are here and I have added comments at each of the relevant points so you can concentrate on the things that are important to you.