Skip to main content

Innovation doesn't just happen elsewhere, it happens by accident

Posted by jbob on June 17, 2003 at 2:47 AM PDT

Thank God for "failure"

So, the funniest thing about the .com bubble was that people actually believed that if they concentrated really really hard, that they could think up the "next big thing". While venture capitalists learned the hard way, most modern marketing departments are still disillusioned. Sorry lads, it just doesn't work that way.

We learn and advance from failure. A very smart person, whom I hold in very high regard, once referred to a now very popular open source tools community as a "failed experiment". Also, consider that Java was originally conceived to run set top boxes. Thank God these experiments didn't go according to plan. If they had, we may not have one of the coolest, most highly adopted, and robust developer platforms and tools around. Talk about being careful of what you wish for!

History is chock-full-O-examples of apparent failures turning into major advancement in human achievement. A true scientist is not afraid of failure and typically tries to prove their theories false rather than defend them blindly. Unlike the .com era, true innovation has no ego. The natural process of innovation is quite humbling.

So, this is one of the reasons why I am excited about java.net.

java.net brings together communities that may not normally congregate. I see this being the accidental meeting place that will launch innovation. Consider that we have communities like Netbeans and JXTA and Jini mingling in the same place. These folks may not naturally run into one another during their normal daily activities to drive their individual projects forward. I, myself, never used those three words in a sentence prior to java.net. Imagine what we could get by applying all of these technologies together.

I remember last year's Java One (I believe it was Java One 2002, but I'm not known for my time management). I somehow scored a full conference pass and was like a kid in a candy store. Anyway, I gravitated to all of the graphics, 2D, and 3D sessions (I'm an animation geek......or an animated geek, depending on who you ask!). I was blown away with how far Java had come in this area. It was very impressive. I remember seeing all of the digital scaling, transformation, and rendering technologies. They demonstrated some really cool stuff.

The most interesting part of last years experience was the reaction to what I thought was an intuitive question. "When are we going to see 2D and 3D in J2ME?" To me, it was a natural marriage. Small devices that are form factor challenged could truely benefit from some the 2D and 3D technologies. The more rich devices - Palm Pilots, Pocket PCs - have graphics capabilities that could also leverage these technologies. It was the lack of an answer and almost lack of response that was quite telling. The room was full of game developers. The game developers were not thinking about running their games on devices at that time and the J2ME enthusiasts just didn't see the need. "Why would we want that?"

Well, luckily someone got it. A year later at Java One 2003, J2ME game development is all the rage. J2ME and J2SE seemed to have always grown up in different neighborhoods and gone to different schools. At least they finally met. One of my hopes is that java.net will help java technologies meet each other sooner in life.

-jbob