Because I was around in 1994 when it was easy to register obvious domain names like, say, SmallBusiness.com, you might think I’d say things were so much easier back then. Or, you might think since I was around a little more than a decade later when very few people used Twitter and I was able to register @smallbusiness (and my personal Twitter account, @R) that I’d suggest those were the good old days when it was easy to get started using Twitter and any other social media.
But here’s the reality: Now is a much better time to start something on the internet.
Kevin Kelly, a co-founder of Wired magazine and one of the most insightful thinkers and authors on the role of technology in our lives, has written a thought-provoking essay titled “You are Not Late” that addresses head-on the myth that things were oh-so-much easier back then, when the internet was a wide-open frontier.
Yet if we consider what we have gained online in the last 30 years, this abundance smells almost miraculous. We got: Instant connection with our friends and family anywhere, a customizable stream of news whenever we want it, zoomable 3D maps of most cities of the world, an encyclopedia we can query with spoken words, movies we can watch on a flat slab in our pocket, a virtual everything store that will deliver next day — to name only six out of thousands that could be mentioned.
But…here is the thing. In terms of the internet, nothing has happened yet. The internet is still at the beginning of its beginning. If we could climb into a time machine and journey 30 years into the future, and from that vantage look back to today, we’d realize that most of the greatest products running the lives of citizens in 2044 were not invented until after 2014. People in the future will look at their holodecks, and wearable virtual reality contact lenses, and downloadable avatars, and AI interfaces, and say, oh, you didn’t really have the internet (or whatever they’ll call it) back then.
“Right now, today, in 2014 is the best time to start something on the internet,” Kelly says. “There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now. Right now, this minute. This is the time that folks in the future will look back at and say, ‘Oh to have been alive and well back then!'”
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been reading the words of Kelly for over 20 years, that I could not agree with him more: Now is the best time to start something — on the internet, and off.
Read Kelly’s essay. Print it out and post it on a nearby wall and read it every day.