Everybody Has a Theory on Why X is Killing Y

Everybody Has a Theory on Why X is Killing Y

This morning, the running “theme” in my reading seems to be “x is killing y”; “free” online content is killing publishing, the “hacker” mentality is killing the American coder’s employability… you get the idea.

If there are common elements running throughout all of these articles in my stream this morning they are sustainability, or rather, the lack of sustainability – and the disappearance of value.

We have accustomed ourselves to the idea that we can get something for nothing.  Or for very little.

You want cheap development? Hire overseas or hire a student.  Better yet, have an intern do it, for free.

You don’t want to watch commercials? Set the DVR and fast forward to your hearts content.

Pretty soon we’re giving each other haircuts on IOUs and no one is paying for anything, because we have mistakenly placed our emphasis on what everything costs rather than upon the value returned.

My car’s battery died this weekend upon returning home from a long twelve hour drive.  I could have had AAA tow the car home and go out later and buy a $80-$90 car battery, or buy a $125 battery right off the AAA truck and be on my way.  From a cost perspective, the “better” alternative would have been to have someone take me to a parts store and pay a cheaper price; I opted to buy the more expensive battery off of the AAA service truck, because of the opportunity value of (a) getting out of the blistering heat sooner rather than later, (b) getting the ice cream I just bought home, and (c) having a new battery in 30 minutes rather than a couple of hours later.

By being shortsighted in our rush to minimize cost at the expense of value, we are wreaking havoc on the quality of the goods and services we receive.

I read in the local business journal where a prominent hotel has released an iPhone application.  The application was one that I was asked to quote upon last year, and I did so with an estimate of about 3-4 weeks of development and with a price commensurate with that effort level.  My pricing reflected getting the application to market in that 3-4 week period, production ready and in the App Store.

I was fairly roughly rebuffed for my estimate, despite my bona fides as a commercial iPhone app developer.

As it happens, the hotel had students create their commercial application.  For free, I’m assuming.

Of course, the opportunity value of taking six months to create the application versus having the application to market in four weeks is not zero.

The “cost” may have been infinitely cheaper, but the lost opportunity of having an app out six months earlier?  Ask the first iFart application dev how much money he made, versus the dozens of imitators who followed suit thereafter.  Is the business environment today better than it was six months ago?

There are times when I seriously question whether I’m in the right business.

But then I remember, we’re all really in the teaching business.  I need to obviously be a better teacher.

And remember: Those that can, Do.  Those that can’t, Teach.  And those that can’t Teach, Teach PE.

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