Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sell Solutions To Your Own Problems

"Create tools to solve your own problems because other people are probably looking for a solution as well." Better words of advice have rarely been spoken about identifying new products. As is the theme of this site, I am stealing other peoples' wisdom and... well... merely passing it along.

I used to think that I never had any problems that needed solving. Professionally, either I thought my problems were so trivial that I just wrote the code, or I was solving a domain problem for my current employer so I just wrote the code. There are so many tools out there for developers that there always seems be a solution for any chore I come up against. In the not so professional parts of my life, problems just didn't seem big enough that anyone would need a better tool. I felt that I must be the only person that couldn't find a better way or one would already exist. I'd either tough it out, or go read some web comics.

The funny thing is, I kept running into an issue when trying to find new web comics to read. The problem was that for various reasons, I couldn't get Google to find new strips. The results I got were sites that have all sorts of cluttered lists that are hard to sort through and browse. And who knows if you have the same tastes as the people that created the lists.

Enter Is It Funny Today. While at first it looked like another one of those lists that has always disappointed me, the site is different. It is easy to read and allows users to vote for and comment on comics. It also has an excellent browsing feature that can show random comics which is the perfect way to sample what the internet has to offer in the way of humor. This problem may not be as important as the recent need to monitor the housing and banking industries, but maybe if those bankers and general contractors had been able to find just one more funny comic to read, they wouldn't have grown into such greedy people and screwed up our economy.

The point is that the Is It Funny Today guys said the exact same thing I did. "Finding webcomics is just so hard." But they had the presence of mind to do something about it. I feel like I got beat to the punch in a way. But that is not giving them enough credit because they were also the ones paying attention to their own problems in the first place. Maybe they didn't find a way to implement world peace, but I thought it was a darn good solution to an everyday problem us web comic fans have.

I guess the lesson I have learned here is that I have to think more critically when a task seems too difficult. Any time I say something along the lines of "I hate [some task]," or "this job is too [hard, tedious, etc.]," I need to try looking for a way to make that chore easier. And I need to remember that I am not so uniquely special OR especially unique that someone else isn't having the same issue.

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