The adjacent possible

Dani and I have been spending a bunch of time recently thinking about the relationship between applications and infrastructure.  It's a little bit of a chicken and egg situation.  You need infrastructure to build apps, but often times you don't really know what kind of infrastructure is needed until you build some apps.

For example, we didn't get AWS (the infrastructure) until we had Amazon (the app).  Often times, the early innovators need to build all the infrastructure themselves in order to build the app they want to build.  And then that helps lead the way for the next generation of infrastructure: taking what was built for a killer app and offering it up to everyone.

One of my favorite books is Steven Johnson's Where Good Ideas Come From -- punchline is: innovation is typically not a single "eureka" moment, but rather an accumulation of many years of cumulative discovery.   This blog is an example of one of my favorite ideas in the book, the "slow hunch" reinforced by the "commonplace book".  Another idea from the book is the Adjacent Possible: essentially, that we can innovate only with what we can see and touch today.  But by innovating at today's edge, we continually stretch the boundary of what's possible:

The strange and beautiful truth about the adjacent possible is that its boundaries grow as you explore them. Each new combination opens up the possibility of other new combinations.

For more on how this concept applies not only to "web 3" (crypto/blockchains) but how it played out looking back at the history of technology (internet 2.0, planes, cars, etc), here is our post.

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