Is “The Next Big Idea” Overrated?

Where’s the next one great idea?

It seems like now, more than ever, the sites that are rising up in the ranks and being extolled by the internet masses have several things in common – they’re all:

  • simple, both in design and use
  • targeted at one task, and doing it well
  • using some of the latest technologies (like Ajax)
  • and have the rest of us scratching our heads saying “why didn’t I think of that?”

I, like everyone else out there, would love to come up with something that just instantly takes off. I think that’s the dream of most internet developers out there, honestly. All it would take is that “One Great Idea” to get the ball rolling down the hill. Yes, PHPDeveloper does well, and I enjoy doing it, but it’s just one news site among many. It provides a service that any monkey could do with the right aggregation software. Sure, having the human aspect in there does separate it from sites like planet-php, but there’s still something missing…like there’s potential there for something really useful to come out of the mass of data I’ve collected on the site over time, but I just can’t seem to see it.

It feels more like one of those “just over the horizion” kinds of things, really – there’s hints here and there that there’s something out there, but nothing definitive. I start looking at the site (and looking around the internet) and think to myself, “Self, there’s got to be something you’re missing..” I look over the vast sea of pages out there and wonder how something I could do could even be a blip on the radar of the internet. I wonder what kind of site I could do to really draw the people in and really provide them with something useful.

Of course, then I stop, take a breath, and look at the short list I outlined above. The “KISS” acronym is more important now than ever. Google really helped start it all when it came on the scene – making simplicity in searching something to be desired. Enter the whole movement that seeks to provide an “elegant environment” for the user to interact with – things like edit in place and dynamic HTML through Javascript are becoming more and more the norm. And, with each new “elegant” site that comes out (my latest fav is Writely), you’re left to wonder what the next step will be…

So, I as I sit here and ponder things that might come next, I wonder if it will fall into one of these categories:

  • another site that bridges the gap between information stores in a clean, lean way
  • a site that provides more simple interaction of opinions between users
  • a community-driven site that serves up content in some new and provocative way

Of course, it could be something completely different…who knows…



  1. I would love to figure out what that “one thing” might be, too. I’ve often thought about how, if you knew the exact right thing to do, you could make something very valuable in an incredibly short amount of time.

    I usually think of things like the stock market, where you could do these certain actions and make incredible amounts of money – but this kind of applies to software development as well.

    For now, I’m doing my best to begin by contributing to open source projects, in an effort to learn why doing something productive. In particular, I’m trying to be more involved with WordPress, which is a great platform from which you can begin development.


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