Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Don't Buy the Hype

David Leslie, who works on QuestionPoint here at OCLC and was a blogger long before "It's All Good" got off the ground, shared a very interesting piece called "Secrets of Product Development and What Journalists Write: Some random bits scribbled by Jeremy Zawodny." Zawodny's point is that the media tend to hype the constantly overlapping product developments of competing tech companies. The media make it appear that developments that have been in the pipeline for months or even years are instantaneous reactions to the moves of their competitors. If you stop to think about this for even a minute, you realize how absurd this concept of instant product development is. However, Zawodny is a Yahoo insider who really makes you understand the full absurdity.

The blog entry itself is interesting enough, but the exchange that follows is both surprising and heartening. The entries reveal a lot about how those big, fast-moving technology companies we all wish we could emulate really aren't all that nimble. One quote, from Charles Eicher, is actually quite inspiring. He describes a mid-1980s talk he'd heard given by somebody from Apple. The speaker said that Apple had teams of people who tried to imagine what their competitors would be doing two years out so they could build products to compete with them. Charles writes, "You can't compete with the future. You have to compete with yourself, you have to produce the best products you can make today and hope that nobody else can compete with YOU." Words a forward-thinking librarian could learn to live by, don't you think?

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