I was meeting some of the Impact Hub Oakland folks and explaining what I do and what my ideas were for teaching webcraft and digital literacy. Someone pointed out that my ideas didn’t scale. It was a compliment, in that I seemed to care more about an individual than creating something that everyone should use. I thought about that for a while, and wondered if that was accurate. It sounded nice to me, but something in it was bothersome, as if I were resisting that description of my work and play.
Then two things happened: Google replaced GTalk (and XMPP interoperability) with their proprietary chat system, and I read The Boy Kings. It is a heady combination, and after digesting those events and ideas I’ve decided that I don’t, in fact, scale.
It is an unquestioned principal in web development that everything must scale. When something scales better, it is intrinsically more valuable than what came before. I look for scaling as a property in software all the time, it is why I run servers and services, while I run a network of WordPress multisite networks and a wikae server farm, among others.
But I don’t scale relationships, or perhaps I should say my relationships don’t scale. I don’t compulsively follow each person that talks to me on the net, but I make it a point to stay in contact with the people I know, despite not being on any social network that is mainstream or popular.
This realization gives me direction. I’ve developed sites for years, some of which are still in planning, that I think are meaningful and helpful, but will never scale at the level that a VC-backed startup requires. And knowing that is one less obstacle to distract myself with.