Links to Links to Links

A few minutes ago, I read the latest post from Seth Godin about his Domino Project, which led me to that blog, which had a post toward the bottom of the page that caught my eye. Sometimes that is how I get ideas. I follow a thread to a junction, and then follow one branch after another until I end up in a new place that is interesting.

The post in question offered an Excel spreadsheet that helps self-publishing authors. I haven’t opened it yet, but I like the idea of offering a checklist for others to follow. The breadcrumbs may take them along the same path you followed on your journey, or lead them somewhere even better.

This is a nice fit with a book I started this morning, The Starfish and the Spider. The authors, Ori Brafman (of Sway) and Rod Beckstrom start off describing how some organizations are like spiders: they die when they lose their head (leaders). They suggest organizations that are like spiders will do better in the future, because they have leaders all over the place. Cut the head off a spider, it dies; cut the arm off a starfish, it grows a new leg, and the leg grows the rest of a starfish.

Their idea seems to be headed in the direction of open source structures, and I have to admit I like their approach. But I’m just one guy without a whole lot of money. I can’t pay for servers and such to support a hundred people, much less a million. If my idea for helping people change takes off, could it be a distributed approach? Does it require everything be hosted on the same server? Could it be constructed to operate in a distributed fashion?

That would require a different architecture and different skills. I think that if I build the idea quickly in FileMaker Pro, it would be easy enough to demonstrate the concept is valid. Then when other people sign up to help, or invest in what I am doing, we could redo things in a platform that was more portable.

But 37signals doesn’t do it that way. They have subscriptions and offer significant value. I intend to do the same.

But wouldn’t my solution be better if I designed it for portability later? It needn’t look as pretty as I have been making it, if the whole point is to make sure the idea works. A simple web interface would do that. People could test the prototype by connecting to my laptop. If it worked, we would have a reason to collaborate or perhaps form a partnership. Partners could buy a server together. Partners could make agreements to work together, doing different parts of the business for the business they created together.

I love following ideas to see where they go. Sometimes, the threads make a wonderful quilt.


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