Technology, Speculation, and Failure

I've talked a lot about technology in this blog – it's both a geeky subject, and something we're all interested in and dependent on.  Technology is changing fast and that changes jobs for ALL of us.

I want to address how technology is changing the nature of speculation and of failure in our careers.

For many of us progeeks and fan-to-pro types, technology is making some or all of our career ambitions easier.  If you want to be a writer, you can self-publish the first edition of your novel, comic, or book.  If you want to do a webcomic, the tools are there – including publicity tools.  If you want recognition as a history teacher you can edit wikis, write for blogs and websites, etc.  If you're a musician or an aspiring one I don't even HAVE to talk about what technology has done for you.

We all look at what technology lets us do from a positive side.  I'd like to call out another advantage that the onslaught of new technologies has done for us that we may not be looking at – speculation and failure.

First, technologies let us take on speculative efforts a lot easier.  We can do podcasts to see if we'd make good radio hosts and see how people react – and build a body of work.  We can get out that novel we're sure no one will publish.  We can write about our favorite subject.  We can build websites trying out our new techniques and technologies.

The huge amount of tools we've been provided in the Internet age let us try our hand at what we want to do with our lives a LOT easier.  You can get educated easy, launch a book, do a website, etc. incredibly fast.

So, if you're looking for a career change or to try your own business, there's no reason not to try it out.  The cost of speculation is much lower than it ever has been.


Technology also makes the impact of failure, in general, easier to bear.

Yes, there's the public humiliation of failure (though if your failure is not selling a book you may be so unknown its not that bad).  But as technology speeds your access to information, your ability to do things, and your ability to get and distribute work, the cost of failure is lower.

You can set up a store without having a storefront.  You can publish a book cheaply.  You can network for pennies.

And when or if your bright idea goes into the toilet, you've spent a fraction of what you would have ten years ago.

In fact, the technology may let you recover more.  Book didn't sell?  Offer to write a column on what not to do for a blog?  Comic didn't sell, keep it out there and see if things pick up.  No one listens to your podcast, you probably have the statistics to guess why from your host.

Never forget, technology gives you room to fail – and to fix it.

These are two ways technology has changed our careers, but we don't often think about them – we want to jump in not "speculate", and we don't want to fail.

But it's nice to know that technology does give us these advantages.  Knowing that means we can make these advantages part of our plans – and that may make our speculation more effective and diminish the chance or impact of failure.

– Steven Savage