Tim O’Reilly waxes philosophical about beer apps and sheep

Last week while I spoke at the Future of Web Apps in London, Tim O’Reilly decided to throw out a challenge to developers to get serious about software.  I guess the timing of this fits with the state of the economy as well as the numerous “silly” apps we are seeing pop up around the web and mobile spaces.  (The “I Am Rich” app for iPhone probably holds the top prize at this moment.)

O’Reilly is never one to beat around the bush, and in this case the challenge to developers is pretty direct:

“O’Reilly argues that Silicon Valley has strayed from the passion and idealism that fuel innovation to instead follow what he calls the “mad pursuit of the buck with stupider and stupider ideas.”

I appreciate what he is asking, but Twitter, one of the sites he mentions for doing good innovation, did not start out as a place where first responders can go for information updates, it was merely a way for friends to connect with short status updates.  The other issue with all of this is the fact people are paying for beer applications and other useless apps.  As long as that happens developers will keep making them.

Over the years AIM has contributed to connecting people separated by continents as well as becoming a way to instantly communicate with people.  During 9/11 when all phone lines were tied up in the New York and DC metro areas, AIM was one of the best tools to use to communicate with friends and family since the internet was still up and running.

Tim’s passion toward developing applications that change the world is important, but sometimes the applications that are most impactful do not necessarily start out that way.  YouTube has broken down barriers of information sharing and gathering and come November 4th, we will see the results of the influence of the internet and social networks had on the election here in the United States.

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