It’s a blurry world, where education and technology combines. The more I read, the more I hang about the periphery of edutech (is that even a thing) where startups aim to ‘disrupt’ education, the more I agree that there’s a couple of unstated beliefs (possibly even unstated to the people starting these startups), as articulated much better than I could, by the author of the article linked to above:
Behind these risible views however lies a dangerous conceit; namely that the purpose of education is to merely get you a job, and not just any job, but a job that doesn’t exist yet.
Behind many of these claims is also a barely concealed contempt for the teaching profession.
Someone asked me, recently, why I started working in tech. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question. Ever. I rambled off an answer that wasn’t entirely great, and we moved on.
Today I remembered when my family first bought a computer – a big beige Amiga that sat out in the family room on a rickety computer desk – in 1984 or 85. It was bought mainly so I could start typing up assignments and my brother could play games and also because my parent’s friends were buying their kids computers.
One of the games my brother bought was Keef The Thief. It was an adventure game with rudimentary graphics and shitty options, but man, you could choose one of the five options, and then that took you on a different type of game adventure than if you chose one of the other five options, which took you into the forest or something. Amazing.
Later at uni, in the early 1990s, we would study ‘hypertextuality‘ as a phenomenon that may or may not be coming to disrupt our imagined impending careers in the media industry, and later again as a designer I would learn a lot more about game mechanics and story telling. But whatever. At 10 years of age my choices had agency (at least within the game) and that was amazing.
So I wrote to the game’s creator and asked them how to make computer games. What did I need to learn? How did they do it? How should I get started?
They wrote back.
I wish I had kept that letter. In essence the person who wrote the letter said “What an interesting and intriguing question. Thank you for your letter. Keep playing Keef The Thief!”
But maybe there’s something there about why I ended up in tech. The possibility of it all.
In all of these markets, the battle is moving from the old moats, the sources of the data, to the new moats, what you do with the data.
The first rule of startups is NEVER RAISE CAPITAL! Instead, go back, interrogate your business model and try to work out a way to create a case where you don’t need to raise capital. Seriously, if there is ANY way at all you can get your business generating enough revenue to cover your costs that’s what you should do. In fact, even if it isn’t covering costs but you can make up the difference from your savings/credit card/second job etc then you should do that for as long as possible.