I remember watching that stock guru/nutcase Jim Cramer announce that he was "off Fedwatch" a few years ago.
People were so overfocused on trying to figure out what the Fed was going to do that they stopped paying attention to some very basic attributes of the companies they were trying to invest in.
Its a "...constantly updated list of web applications, services,
resources, blogs or sites with a focus on next generation web (web
2.0), social software, blogging, Ajax, Ruby on Rails, location mapping,
open source, folksonomy, design and digital media sharing..."
Ok, maybe not... but it might as well.
"Web 2.0" is the hottest discussion topic in tech right now, and if there ever was a site that was striking while the iron was hot, this is it. I'll bet you every single tech VC that has figured out how to use RSS (many probably still haven't, which is fine) is subscribed... mostly in paranoid fear that they might miss "the next big thing".
But I looked at it today, like I did everyday, and yet again,
I couldn't find anything that not only solved a problem for me, but solved a problem for thousands or millions of people in a way that anyone who didn't know what Ruby, RSS, or open source was would adopt. Correction: I found a lot of neat tools.... some great tools. I didn't find a lot of businesses and I've been looking at it like I should be, which isn't what its for.
Well, I'm tired of it.
I'm tired of signing up for calandering and todo applications.
I'm also tired of knowing through the Crime stats/Pedometer/Blogmap mashup how close the blogger nearest to me needs to walk to get mugged.
That's not a useful service nor is it a business.... in the same way that blogging isn't supposed to go be bookworthy. (Well, except maybe Tom's thing... but that's a whole other story.)
eHub itself is a great example. Emily Chang is a slick designer and an
even savvier businesswoman. She's latched on to a hot topic with a
resource that plays into exactly what the crowds are clamoring for, and
her business is going to take off because of it. But, she's not
evaluating or discerning... Addition: ... and that's fine, but I think a lot of the Web 2.0 naysayers are looking at collections like this and acting like this represents a list of what Web 2.0 has to show for its best business ideas.
Think of it this way. If all of these
little tools bought Google keywords that said, "Discover the greatest
ajax apps right here", would you click on it? No, you probably
wouldn't take it seriously. So, if eHub isn't doing any screening,
then what's the difference?
eHub is promotion, not scripture.
With a lot of blogging, there's a huge amount of content now available created by people who aren't in the business of creating content. They're trying to promote some other service, or are simply promoting their industry in general. Some of them even actively engage in discussions meant to lead to best practices, enlightenment, etc.
In the same way, there are now thousands of little lightweight web services out there created by people who aren't in the business of building businesses. They are programmers experimenting in their free time. Maybe they're trying to promote their services. Maybe they just needed to solve a problem that only they had, without much concern as to whether or not anyone esle had it. These apps serve a lot of different purposes for a lot of different people, but that doesn't make them all businesses. Bubbles happen when we don't see the difference and we start funding (and overfunding) the projects.
And the line is certainly blurry, don't get me wrong. The difference between now and ten years ago is that what someone can build today, on their own, for free, is a million times better than the "real" applications people were building back then. Plus, they come to market faster with a greater buzz. A lot of them seem very real. But some of them are just pixel copycats.
EDIT: So, I'm done deluding myself that I could just relay on resource lists like this as an easy way to find the beginnings of great businesses. eHub is a great resource for tools, but not an auto-fill for a deal log.
I'm off eHubwatch!!