Can you serve others better than you serve yourself

I have thought about this a great deal. The degrees of abstraction are endless. I have thought about it from a systematic perspective, from a social perspective, from a business perspective and so on. The answer I come to consistently is NO. Now let me explain.

The guiding point is: You cannot serve others any better than you serve yourself. I am not saying, if I want my friend to have a nice car, I must first have a nice car. Nope, what I am saying is, if I want my friend to have a nice car, I must first have the ability to give a nice car. At a personal level the actions we take that define us, are the foundations of our interactions with others. The personal side goes down a deep meta rabbit hole and is best left for another time.

The part that is more plain is from a business and systematic perspective. I had previously written “A provider cannot deliver a continuity of experience greater than the continuity of experience the provider has internally.”

You cannot manage a customers inventory any better than you can manage your own (definitely if you are using the same systems, people, and processes).

Do you think Ford could build cars for toyota better than they could build Fords, uh Nope.

Do you think that the U.S. can run a country any better than we run the U.S., uh Nope, just look at Puerto Rico (Usually worse).

If you have variability in your business process when you share those processes with your customer, guess what they get the same degree of variability.

If your email system sucks when you use it, it will suck when you host it out for your customers to use.

Do you think that Google employees have better mail services than Gmail users, I bet they do, but all services being equal I bet its darn close.

The reality is the systems, people and processes we use internally will never generate better results just because your using them on someone’s behalf.

Simple shifts

As the understanding of the web matures, new unique perspectives of the web are going drive innovation. In the beginning having the web was the driving force of innovation (The Bubble was a side effect), and by all measures that type of innovation is still going on today. Now after more than a decade of the web we are seeing innovation based on using the web in an unique and innovative ways.

Companies like SalesForce.com (CRM, business applications), Google (mail, chat, calendar, marketing and search) are delivering services via the web that were previous costly and difficult to manage. Companies like 37signals (Basecamp for Project management) and Zimbra are simplifying and bringing together information and applications in meaningful ways. More and more simple shifts in thinking about how the web can be used or generally how the network can be used are having profound effects on technology and the community of companies and people on and off the network.

Buy a book and some processor cycles

Amazon is now offering Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). This goes along with other service offerings. I really like the business strategy statement in the the Amazon 2005 annual report but the service part seems kinda just tacked on:

Our business strategy is to relentlessly focus on customer experience by offering our customers low prices,
convenience, and a wide selection of merchandise, to provide e-commerce solutions and services to other
businesses and to offer web services applications to developers.

(my emphasis)

They offer services but (via Amazon Web Services Licensing Agreement):

AMAZON WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OF ANY KIND ARISING FROM YOUR USE OF, OR INABILITY TO USE, AMAZON WEB SERVICES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, CONSEQUENTIAL OR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION LOST DATA, BUSINESS OR ANTICIPATED PROFITS. CERTAIN JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW LIMITATIONS ON IMPLIED WARRANTIES OR THE EXCLUSION OR LIMITATION OF CERTAIN DAMAGES, AND SO SOME OR ALL OF THE ABOVE DISCLAIMERS, EXCLUSIONS, OR LIMITATIONS MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.

But don’t worry if you die or get personally injured:

THIS LIMITATION OF LIABILITY DOES NOT APPLY TO LIMIT AMAZON’S LIABILITY FOR DEATH OR PERSONAL INJURY TO THE EXTENT ONLY THAT IT ARISES AS A RESULT OF THE NEGLIGENCE OF AMAZON OR OF ITS EMPLOYEES, AGENTS OR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVES.

Amazon continues to offer cool services to developers at affordable prices. So check out Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

Update: My Feed management services RFP

FeedBurner wins hands down.

It looks like no other feed management service has the stones to take them on. The FeedBurner reply was the only response I received. I saw traffic from multiple companies that offer Feed management services but none replied to my RFP. I will not mention any names of the lurking companies since they didn’t want to reply.

So In the coming weeks I will be migrating my feeds over to FeedBurner. I am happy to be moving my business to a Chicago based company. FeedBurner did meet most of my requirements though I prefer to use Google analytics for my web traffic analysis. Mint looks cool I will have to do an RFP for Analytics.

I will provide a more detailed post on FeedBurner later.

An estimated 168 million Americans lack broadband access at home!

A Reuters article (via News.com) points out:

An estimated 42 percent of Americans had high-speed Internet access at home in March 2006, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. That was up from 30 percent of Americans with high-speed access one year earlier, it said.

Wow, 168 million people do not have Broadband at home. The funny thing is many (technologists, the technorati, and the like) refer to the network as being ubiquitous. Its not, and given the cost issues ($49.00 for Comcast) and the political BS around the last mile and now net neutrality, its likely that many may never get Broadband. 168 million, in that number lurks the digital divide, and we as a country don’t seem to be doing much about it. Anybody want to guess how many children are deprived the benefit of the information super highway. Dial-up doesn’t count in my book either. Sad very Sad.

Hints of Opportunity

Jon Udell writes in A new breed of highly-available serverless applications:

Amazon’s S3/SQS duo is a green field that invites entrepreneurs to think way outside the box.

I have already proposed prototypes that can take advantage of these services. Amazon will not be the only provider of distributed storage or messaging services (see cleversafe). These services plus the services from Google are just the beginning of a whole class of services that will drive innovation. Start-ups will be able to take advantage of the more efficient cost model and the increased flexibility. I also agree with Jon that SPDADE applications are going to become even more powerful as they integrate with services like S3 and SQS.

Check out Amazon’s S3 and SQS and let your mind run wild.

Link Summary:

Jon Udell’s RSS feed
A new breed of highly-available serverless applications

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)
Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS)

Check out Dabble DB from Smallthought

I was reading a post from Tim Bray about Dabble DB by Smallthough. So I went and watched the screen cast demo they have up on the site. Wow, very cool. Dabble is a collaborative data management, authoring, and publishing web application (I know that description doesn’t do Dabble DB justice). The application lets you copy and past spreadsheet data into the app. It lets you create associations not explicitly present in the original data. It lets you save views of the data. It publishes data in RSS and a lot more.

Just go and check it out, you will be impressed.

Links:

Tim Bray ongoing RSS Atom Feed
Dabble DB, Check It Out

Smallthough RSS Feed
Dabble DB