What the Bubble Got Right

A beautiful article by Paul Graham: What the Bubble Got Right. It is a good analysis of the dot-com era. I totally agree with the analysis too! People tend to overestimate the impact of technology over the short term, but underestimate it over the longer term. The dot-com bubble was proof of that. It is not so much that the new economy was a sham… but rather that the new economy will take a bit more than 2 years to settle… Here’s the conclusion of this beautiful article:

When one looks over these trends, is there any overall theme? There does seem to be: that in the coming century, good ideas will count for more. That 26 year olds with good ideas will increasingly have an edge over 50 year olds with powerful connections. That doing good work will matter more than dressing up– or advertising, which is the same thing for companies. That people will be rewarded a bit more in proportion to the value of what they create.

If so, this is good news indeed. Good ideas always tend to win eventually. The problem is, it can take a very long time. It took decades for relativity to be accepted, and the greater part of a century to establish that central planning didn’t work. So even a small increase in the rate at which good ideas win would be a momentous change– big enough, probably, to justify a name like the “new economy.”

As a side-note, the mere fact that such a good article is waiting at the end of a URL, for all to see and absolutely free, should remind you of how powerful, after all, the Web really is. I was raised in an era where you needed to go buy a magazine to read such a great article. Then you’d get many bad articles, but what could you do: there were few magazines, and your choices were limited. Things have changed, they have changed tremendously.

Daniel Lemire, "What the Bubble Got Right," in Daniel Lemire's blog, September 29, 2004.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

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