Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I remember one of the things that intrigued me about the first software program I wrote was that I could get a machine — a computer — to do what I told it to do. Cool!
Without going into the old then-versus-now analogies, what has impressed me over the years is how technology has allowed people to do big things.
There are a few things that have allowed people to think big over the years:
First, computing is now far less expensive than it was years ago. The computing power of a multimillion-dollar computer decades ago is now in a mobile phone that costs under $100 per month. This has put massive technology in the hands of people who would never have had access to it.
Second, the Internet. For all of the good and bad things about the Internet, it connects the world. There are very few physical places where the Internet is not available. Oh, and for all intents and purposes, all digital devices — computers, phones and more — are connected to the Internet.
What this means is that the ability for people to have an impact on the world has changed. Where it used to be that only large, global media companies could touch people around the world, now people have the ability to do so.
So, whether one is wanting to communicate about new recipes, a personal event, a new product or overthrowing a government, anyone with an Internet-connected device can have a voice on the world stage.
That's thinking big.
Furthermore, anyone with some nominal programming skills can write an iPhone or Android app and make it available to people around the world. Whether the app is intended to make money for the author or not is almost secondary to the fact that the app can be put into the hands of people around the world. These apps can be funny, serious, intended for a broad audience or intended for a niche audience. But geography does not matter.
Many people with a simple idea have become known around the world. For example, the Angry Birds app.
That's thinking big.
With big thinking also comes responsibilities. In particular, when one puts oneself on the global stage, there are a lot of people who can see you and not only praise, but criticize you. As attractive as having a global audience might sound, it's not always as attractive as one might think.
But technology does allow everyday people to think big and act big. In many cases, great ideas that might never have an opportunity to see the light of day can now have their opportunity for greatness. So go ahead, give your big idea a stage.
Mark Mathias, a 30-plus year veteran of information technology and a resident of Westport, Connecticut, was named by Computerworld magazine to their inaugural list of “Premier 100 IT Leaders.” This column was originally published in the Westport News on Wednesday 13 June 2012.