This Year’s Question

I’ve noticed something in my current job search.  People keep asking the same question.  Sometimes they ask it in an aggressive way; as if they were giving an exam question.  Sometimes they ask it in a humble way; as if they assume I know and they would love to be educated.  Sometimes they ask as a kind of test of tribal membership; dropping a nominal answer while clearly inviting me to agree that is in fact the answer.  Sometimes it’s part of their start-up’s value proposition, even most of it; i.e. one of the keywords on the tin of their plausible premise; like “new” or “family sized!”

A few years ago the question that filled this role was “What’s up with this Web 2.0 thing?”  I’m not sure we ever actually settled, collectively, on an answer to that question.  We do seem to have agreed there was something to it.  Maybe less than the hope, but still there was something there.  Something about richer user interface, and something about web services & ajax.

Since this new question get’s asked in the midst of a job search I suspect my answers so far are muddy.  Colored by the necessity of giving an answer that will work well on the primary goal of moving the job hunt forward.  If the founder is chasing his vision it’s kind of lame to confuse the quest with a chaff of alternative visions.

I guess I really ought to puzzle out what my thoughts are about this question. That’s hard for the usual reasons.  There are some vendors who have grabbed a chunk of mind share.  There is a large incentive to deploy the idea to get with the current venture capital enthusiasms.  I’m, like we all are, a bit blinded by some of my favorite insights that are nearby. The temptation to frame it as nothing new is always a good dodge.

But for the record the question is “What’s up with this cloud computing thing?”

see also: new frontier, evolving, godzilla, energy, stormy weather, condensation

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