Guess which tech fad I’m talking about? Doesn’t matter. I’ve been in IT nearly 30 years as of this writing and not much has changed, it just goes faster while the ephemera of it all becomes more obvious.
Every industry, community, etc. has its fads. Thats normal, humans love new stuff, humans are social, and humans innovate. A seemingly trite fad today could be the foundation of great future potential. It could also vanish, but that’s just life.
In tech fads – hell, most fads – one of the issues is money. Fads can make you money especially if you jump on them, create them, support them, or exploit them and tech lets you do it fast. Tech has been wildly successful the last few decades and has lots of money, attracts money, and attracts people who want to make money.
Past a certain point, the money starts to matter so much the reason for the fad – sometimes good reasons – doesn’t matter. At that point I find you end up with really two populations jumping on fads.
People with money: You got money, you can make money – and when others are making money, you want to run up the score or have more power than them. You can invest in many fads and hope one pays off. Of course this distorts the actual value of whatever new ideas are out there as you can take over a market (leading to enshittification) or just keep it going long enough to cash out.
People looking for a quick score: Jumping on fads in tech – and elsewhere – can be profitable or can seem to be. Everyone’s ready to try and make a quick buck and fads promise a lot of opportunity.
So everyone jumps on a fad, someone gets rich, and the fad either fades, breaks, or actually becomes something solid. Then the next fad starts and here we go again.
Thing is, two results tend to come out of this when there’s lots of money to be made. First, some people make a lot of money, and some people get hosed and lose out. That distorts the next fad when it’s involves a lot of money (like we see in tech, film, etc.)
First, the people who made a lot of money can jump on, take advantage of, or start the next fad easier. They have money, they can now multiply it again!
Second, the people who didn’t make a quick score or didn’t get in on it get more desperate for the next fad. Why miss out? Why not try to make back what you lost? Why can’t you be like the people who won last time?
So the next fad is more funded – and more desperate.
Where does this go? Honestly I think this happens in many areas, not just tech, but it’s all so intertwined maybe that doesn’t matter much. But one thing it’s not to judge by environmental pressures and economic issues is sustainable. Winners win more, losers get more desperate, and more and more fads don’t make anything.
I suspect at some point you either see the fractures above rapidly shatter systems, and probably causing that or around that time, there’s one big fad everyone bets on. For that one, few to no one wins and a lot of people lose.
Just staying that with our environmental problems, that could be geohacking (which I support to an extent). Chew that one over.