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Mar 25, 2006 8:49am

go big

"It's a bad time to start a company" (Caterina Fake)

I've just arrived in Vancouver for the IA Summit, where I will be on a Sunday panel with Gene Smith, Dan Brown, and Michal Arrington (I will be the one running back and forth along the net, picking up wayward tennis balls). The topic of our conversation is Web 2.0, and what it means for information architects. This comes somewhat hot-on-the-heels of Peter Merholz calling out Web 2.0 poster-company 37Signals for their "shallow views and rhetoric", in response to a swipe at information architecture from the Getting Real PDF file, and I have been informed that a lot of information architects are worried about what Web 2.0 means for their employability. What skills will transfer, does user-created content mean no one needs to be told how to choose section titles, etc.

Caterina Fake's post detailing the reasons why it's a shitty time to start a new venture (everyone else is doing it, talent pool is finite) is a ray of hope for me, because one of the defining characteristics of Web 2.0 for me personally has been "Low Hanging Fruit". There are a million companies with similar-sounding names and logos all running a mile-a-minute trying to solve easy problems: calendars, word processing, drag and drop, time-and-milestone trackers. Web frameworks Rails, Django, and TurboGears are optimized for these tasks, and process dogma Getting Real assumes that anything which takes more than a week to dream up, prototype, and release may very well not be worth doing.

If all the coders and designers are exhausting themselves implementing known solutions to solved problems, who's paying attention to the big questions? This feels like the natural home for the IA Summit crowd: people comfortable imposing order on chaos and tackling big tasks. I say this more from a position of reverence than experience, because I'm definitely missing the experience of long-term, many-faceted projects at the moment. There's so much fast-turnaround, race-to-market work in the world right now it's making my head spin, and not in a good way.

It's an auspicious time to Go Big.

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