About 15 years ago, a person whom I would now call a Visionary, brought his team together to work on a new concept. Websites were new, and mostly belonged to organizations or stores who had something to showcase. Personal websites were few and just picking up: there were no easy tools to create them, one had to learn programming, though HTML, Javascript, CGI/Server programming et al were in their infancy, and there wasn’t much one could do compared to today. Blogs were unheard of.

He designed a pick-and-choose website creation tool for users who did not know (or wish to know) anything about web development. Users could pick a template, colours, section titles etc. and add text to it. The result was two nice-looking pages to speak about themselves, ready in minutes! At the bottom of the second page, there were two boxes called ‘Message Boxes.’ Zoom in to these Boxes, because that is what I’m going to talk about.

Message Boxes were places where others could leave notes for the website owner, and he could reply. A very crude form, ill-organized, but yes, that was the closest one would ever have come to a … Facebook wall. I wonder where that site would have been today, had this Visionary been surrounded by a set of people who were ready to put their faith in him. It would have developed into the first social networking site, much ahead of its time. Unfortunately for him, the negative impact – of a team that did his bidding just because they were paid for it and was not ready to expand on his dreams or improvise or innovate – finally won over, and the site stayed just as it was: under-developed. I believe we can find its remnants even today. The company that the Visionary led went on to do something mundane, commonplace that everyone else was into.

It took someone else to figure out the potential of a ‘space of one’s own’. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook: why are they popular today, much beyond the expectations of their creators? The reason is so simple, had it occurred to the Visionary fifteen years ago, he would have put all his money on it. He did have an inkling, apparently, but was not confident enough.

We all need a place to whine. In the olden times, the purpose was served by close friends and family. As time passed and the whining became a more desperate, elaborate requirement, the circle of friends became too small. Besides, with friends one had to occasionally listen as well. Then, as a life saver, entered the Blog, where one could whine, and not care if someone else whined as well. And soon followed Social Networking which was a whole new, endless expanse of space! Now one could really, continuously whine in peace the whole day, the whole year, and not even bother if anyone listens. Someone might, time and again, ask you what happened, and you could slip into the details or tell them to shoo, depending on your need.

If you’re in search of the next big thing the world is going to drool over, make sure you allow some space for the endless whining that we ordinary folks desperately need.

If you’re a visionary, you may foresee what kind of whining space the world will desire fifteen years from now. Dive into it.