Thursday, June 2, 2011

Building Castles in the Air

Building Castles in the Air… What does this saying bring to mind? Images of instability no doubt; representing endeavors without proper foundations which are bound to fail. But interestingly, I noticed that certain enterprises were in fact being built “in the sky”.

Yes, I am talking about internet-based entities, where so much of the entity’s value is intangible; bits of data held in some ‘cloud’ somewhere. Of course, that cloud is actually a server farm somewhere down here on earth, but for the entity itself, it makes no difference. The entire essence of the enterprise consists of ideas and concepts which are manifested not through bricks and mortar, but through websites and databases; the value distributed to users through PCs, smart-phones, and tablets.

This observation has nothing to do with the saying “Building Castles in the Air” in the traditional sense. It neither supports nor discounts the concept that all enterprises require a solid foundation in order to succeed (but I would like to add that Yes, I support the notion that solid foundations are required). This observation just shows that the foundations of businesses and organizations can take on various forms, and they do not have to be cement and steel rods.

At the core, all enterprises are ideas. The ideas are put into action when ambition and emotional energy is poured into them. Then they finally take the shape of the physical stuff that gives us value.

All this has not changed, except for the fact that much of what gives us value is no longer necessarily physical. Much of it is informational; letters and numbers on a screen. Your fat bank account which gives you so much comfort is represented to you by nothing more than some digits on your smart-phone’s browser.

Increasingly, our ‘Castles’ are moving to the air. A guy with nothing more than a laptop at Starbucks may actually be hosting his own mighty fortress in cyberspace.

Value has transcended from the physical plane to the mental and spiritual; and it is being distributed as such. The only physical conduit involved is the gadget we use to connect to the cyber world.

As long as our ideas can take shape and grow in the cyber world, as a society more and more of our castles and treasures will move to the air; leaving no trace to the naked eye which does not know where to look.

This is the world we live in today…

Andrew Chua.

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