Carmack, the famous developer behind the Doom video game and most recently CTO of Oculus Rift, said this 20 years ago:
"In the information age, the barriers [to entry into programming] just aren’t there. The barriers are self imposed. If you want to set off and go develop some grand new thing, you don’t need millions of dollars of capitalization. You need enough pizza and Diet Coke to stick in your refrigerator, a cheap PC to work on, and the dedication to go through with it." - John Carmack
2014 is now well underway, and his words have never been more true. For the average person, technical or otherwise, there has never been more opportunity than right now! Anyone can create something to share with the world, across a variety of technology platforms - with very low barriers to entry.
Yes, Carmack’s quote above is programming specific, but today it’s even easier across all levels of creativity! Here are some of my favorites:
- "Interactive environments": No longer does one need an engineering degree to gain a basic understanding of how to build interactive objects/environments. Using DIY electronics kits, like Arduino or Raspberry Pi, it’s possible to create objects that interact with the physical world, using lights, motors, and sensors. The possibilities are endless. Additionally, 3D printing is growing in popularity, allowing you to create small tools, prototypes, or even fun trinkets. I built a case to hold my Raspberry Pi board for just $3 at my local library. You can spend the time to learn how to design objects that can be printed or customize a pre-existing design that someone uploaded online (what I did).
- Social Media: While heavily utilized by businesses, some of the greatest successes of the past few years have been individuals who uploaded their work onto networks like YouTube or Vine. Not everyone needs to become a viral superstar; rather, expressing yourself passionately about a particular hobby/topic is often enough to gain at least a decent following.
- Writing: It used to be the case that getting noticed as an author or simply a creative writer was very difficult; getting published especially so. In the late 90’s, blogging took off; suddenly, connecting with others professionally or about hobbies became easy. Self publishing a book is now incredibly easy using services like Leanpub, allowing you to obtain both an audience and a living while cutting out the traditional publisher middlemen.
- Online Marketplaces: For the longest time eBay was the dominant online marketplace. Nowadays there is something for everyone. Rising stars include Leanpub for self publishing, CodeCanyon for code snippets, and ThemeForest for designers. My current favorite is Etsy, perhaps the best site for creators specializing in unique goods. From wedding items to furniture to stationary - everything can be found there. I find the art particularly interesting (check out my good friend Jennifer Ahern’s for some great pieces). No longer is the only option to sell your art on Saturday’s at local art festivals - the whole world can be your customers!
How are you leveraging technology in 2014? Share your opportunities in the comments below.