Jason VanLue)

On Staying Small

DATE: 07.20.12 • READING TIME: 1min

Before the turn of the 20th century the world was a lot smaller. Lots of folks farmed their own land. Doctors and lawyers established small, local practices. Banks knew everyone's name and usually everyone's life story. Then the industrial revolution came along and changed all of that.

It's funny, because some say the industrial revolution made the world smaller. More products could be produced faster, and shipped to the corners of the globe. In a way, it made commerce smaller.

Fast forward to the next century where the internet is the new industrial revolution. Internet startups of 2012 are the factories of 1912. Some say the internet made the world smaller. I can talk to anyone, anywhere, at any time. This should make relationships smaller, right?

I'm not sure.

I barely know my neighbors. I certainly don't know the folks even one street over. In the pursuit of smaller I think we've actually gotten bigger. It's a mentality I think we all know. We want the next 'big' thing. We want our businesses to get bigger. As if getting bigger was noble or right in itself. Why do we think this way? Is it right? Is it good?

In the tech industry, the common mantra seems to be to start a company, make it bigger, and get acquired by someone much bigger than you. Gowalla went to Facebook. Sparrow went to Google.

What happened to the doctor who makes house calls? What happened to small bank who knows everyone's story? What happened to the small business who is content to stay small? Why is it that we think big is always better? A lot of times, maybe it is.

But maybe small is okay too.

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