Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Barbarians amongst us

I was speaking with my buddy Robert yesterday and he was relating to me the high octane energy he just experienced at the Game Developers Conference that just concluded. What was particularly striking was his off-hand comment that 'this is like the internet was in 1995', full of can-do people who keep the lawyers at bay while pushing the envelope to create great products. Wow, a high bar from a guy who co-founded iVillage.

His comments set me to thinking about other areas where we are seeing rise of 'noble savages that embody the barbarian (entrepreneurial spirit). No doubt we are seeing it in the mobile space, but only around the iPhone and some signs of savage life in Android land. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the mobile space remains under the yoke of carriers and handset vendors.

It seems as if we are seeing a growing ethnos around the large screen internet experience. After all, who but a native barbarian in a pre-revenue company, would call out NBC and Comcast (hi Boxee)? Of greater significance here is the evolving relationship between Hulu and its parents NBC and News Corp, with Providence Equity as a smaller partner. While the President of NBC bemoans shifting 'analog dollars to digital pennies' his step-children at Hulu, who are emerging as a top 5 video site in less than two years, must roll their eyes and hold their breath for the upcoming Armageddon. For surely, there is an epic battle brewing between analog dollars and digital pennies.

The mother of all barbarian movements in the software/internet space is the open source movement. People such as Linus Torvalds (Linux), Richard Stallman (Free Software Foundation), Larry Wall (Perl) and Brian Behledorf (Apache) paved the way for creating much of the infrastructure for the Internet. These pioneers have spawned thousands of initiates such as Drupal, Digium, Untangle, and http://www.canonical.com/.

It's the passion of the developers at the Game Developers Conference and the thousands of entrepreneurial companies that are the heroes of our industry.

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