At O’Reilly, a big part of our business is paying attention to what’s new and interesting in the world of technology. We have a pretty good record at having anticipated some of the big developments in recent technological history. For instance, we launched the first commercial Web site, GNN, in 1993; we organized the meeting at which the term “open source” was first adopted; we were early investors in Blogger, which helped launch the blogging revolution; and more recently, our Web 2.0 conference launched a world-wide meme. Internally, we’ve called this predictive sense the “O’Reilly Radar” — in fact it’s become a tradition to kick off O’Reilly conferences with a talk of the same name. And while we’re certainly not always right, we are, at least, good at making interesting guesses.
Our methodology is simple: we draw from the wisdom of the alpha geeks in our midst, paying attention to what’s interesting to them, amplifying these weak signals, and seeing where they fit into the innovation ecology. Add to that the original research conducted by the O’Reilly Research group, and you start to get a good picture of what the technology world is thinking about. What books are people just now starting to buy, and which are falling off in interest? Which tech-related Google AdWords are rising or falling in price? What can we learn from predictive markets tracking tech trends? Which open source contributors look to be on the track of an interesting project — or set of projects?
The O’Reilly Radar blog will track what we’re tracking, and turn the blips into conversations. Using some of the technologies we’re currently enjoying — tags by del.icio.us, photos by Flickr, trends by the Yahoo!/O’Reilly Buzz Market — we’ll draw from the wisdom of the alpha geeks, amplify the weak signals, draw out effective design patterns, iterate, and see if we can predict the next Mosaic, P2P, or Amazon.