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Perfectionism is the Enemy of Progress

OK, I can’t take credit for that line. Should I take it down? I actually learned it last week while watching Jason Calacanisfirst episode of his new show This Week in Startups, or #TWIST as I think he refers to it when you are Twittering.

As an example of this idea, he told the story of Microsoft Word. Word 1.0 basically sucked. But the key is they put it out there, and it was “good enough” to get some traction in the market. And then as each successive version came out, it got a little better and better, they fixed things, added things, and pretty soon, maybe it was a number of years, but by the time the PC revolution was reaching its crescendo, it was the best and dominant Word Processing program on the market and a cornerstone to their Amazingly successful Office Suite. I know its in vogue to hate Microsoft now a days, and maybe rightfully so, but no one can argue that its one of the greatest business success stories in American history.

The point is, if they hadn’t put it out there until it was “perfect” oh this is too ironic, you can’t make this stuff up, “WordPerfect” by Corel which then was the market leader might have continued on in first place.

I was thinking of all the amazing opportunities we have in this Telecommunications Revolution World we live in, specifically tonight of alternative bands that may have a small but devoted following sprawled out all over the world. I was thinking while I was watching Robert Scoble do a live video of a panel discussion he was on concerning Real Time Web Search. You see, Robert, or the Scobleizer, as he is known does a lot of these “off the cuff” videos live with just his Macbook and a Kyte.tv account and channel. Many are just in his house. No pretense about a studio, etc, but so many times he is interviewing somebody really smart and interesting and I take away a lot of value from it. He even did a live video of a Facebook press conference a few weeks ago when they announced their intention to open up. That was a BIG DEAL, and as far as I know, no one else, no major or minor TV station was broadcasting it. Only Scoble and his little Macbook, this time pumped through Leo Laporte’s This Week in Technology (Twit) Network, which is another amazing story in and of itself.

I digress. I was thinking tonight that bands that fly under the radar, lets say they are playing a club in Ireland with just 50 people in the audience. Maybe they have dates all over Europe this summer like that, small venues, but enthusiastic loyal followers. But they have those same “long tail” loyal followers back in America and perhaps on every continent. Now with just a Macbook and Kyte or many other such services they can broadcast even their small club shows to a WORLD WIDE AUDIENCE. That is big. Think of how that would energize their fans, how it would engage their fans, who otherwise would be watching another band, or engaging in some other activity.

But they don’t do it. Why? Oh the quality isn’t perfect. But that’s missing the point. The “Long-Tail” audience will get an endorphin rush from the shear “aesthetic arrest” in what is happening, of how “cool” it is (the medium is the message) and forgive the low quality. The low quality might even intimate them more emotionally to the artist, and besides like Word 1.0, the quality is going to get here, soon, very, very soon. The Fiber backbone on the Continents and even under the seas connecting them has enough capacity for everyone on the planet to have a peer to peer HD connection, in real time, AT THE SAME TIME. The problem is only in the “Last Mile” which we can think the Telecom Act of 1996, at least in part for, if not all by privatizing the risks of the Telcos and socializing their profits. There you have it. Government regulation, not “de regulation” caused both the internet bust and the recent financial crisis. Yeah for big Government! Whatever, I digress again. Even Big Government(s) can’t stop the Exobyte floods that are coming, and the individual, whether he be an artist, business person, or practically any field (even politics!) will be the beneficiary of a much higher standard of living and a planet that has no limits of what it can do or where it can go. Star Trek just came out this week. Perfect, oops I said it, timing.

The “fire theft” motif of many Mythologies, most famously that of Perseus’ theft of the Sacred flame from Zeus, is a metaphor for Technology. We are stealing fire from the Gods. The fire is trapped inside those nanobits, or even deeper in 11 dimensional “strings” that literally transcend time and space. But if Perseus had waited until he was perfectly ready, no fire would have been stolen, and we wouldn’t even have a story to inspire, much less the technology all around us that was built, in part by the inspiration.

The “force” is the mysterious spontaneity of life itself, including the power that makes a flower blossom and the Earth to hurl around the Sun. The only way to harness that force is to let go of the desire to control it, which is the feeling of the Mind as being above nature: the heart of “perfectionism” itself.

*Update: I just began listen to TWIST #3, and the first caller who called in worked on a product for two years before he released, but by then it was too late, and Google had already come out with a similar product for free, yada, yada, yada. So another example. Jason just said, “You wanna’ get the product out there, you wanna’ iterate, you want to LEARN FROM YOUR AUDIENCE.” I love that last part. Something about it just seems to ring so true.






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