The printing press. Telecommunications. The computer. The Internet. The next big thing: we’re all looking for it. Pioneering inventions not only have the power to change the marketplace – they can change the world. But these game changers all have one thing in common: they built upon and improved prior technologies.
The printing press.
When Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1430s, he didn’t create it from whole cloth – he was improving upon preexisting technologies. Paper and block printing had existed for centuries, originating in the 11th century in China, but printing books was cost-prohibitive. Gutenberg was the first to combine a screw press (used for producing wine and olive oil) with block printing for written materials. He developed durable metal printing blocks that revolutionized mass printing, accommodating vast quantities of information to be disseminated rapidly – and globally, too. The printing press was the 15th century equivalent of the Internet: it affordably diffused knowledge worldwide.
It’s hard to imagine a time before telephones, the telegraph, television, or radio. Communications technology has increased in flexibility and utility for centuries. Samuel Morse was definitely on to something when he invented the electric telegraph in 1836, building upon prior technology to create a telecommunication system that suddenlyconnected cities hundreds of miles apart. The telephone later refined this technology, but the infrastructure required in these point-to-point communication systems was vast. Guglielmo Marconi and Nikola Tesla popularized the transmission of signals via electromagnetic waves – and soon, sound was transmitted wirelessly. These inventions changed how we socialize – and exponentially decreased the distance between every person on the planet.
It started out as a big, mysterious box that took up entire rooms. Today’s edition is ever smaller, stronger, and faster. Computers receive information, manipulate it, and output new information –revolutionizing the way we work. While devices that could be considered “computers” existed even during ancient times, electronic computers first came onto the scene in the 20th century. In Before the Computer (1993) author James W. Cortada asserts that computers came from the gradual evolution of the business community, building upon and improving prior technologies, including tabulators, adding machines, and typewriters. Modern computers have sequenced the human genome, created lifelike computer generated images, simplified customer databases, and streamlined business worldwide.
The Internet allows people to access almost any information – anywhere, anytime. It has had a profound impact on communication, business, and the economy. While the research and development arm of the U.S. military (DARPA, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) created ARPANET in 1969, the true birth of the Internet was in the late 1970s. The public World Wide Web first became available in 1993 – and it continues to be a driving force in commerce.
NationBuilder isn’t the first to build upon prior technologies – but it’s quickly proving to be tremendously apt at it. This platform integrates customer relationship management and content management in an affordable and accessible complete software platform that’s equal parts business revolution and business evolution. According to Ben Horowitz, co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, NationBuilder has what it takes to be the Next Big Thing.
“NationBuilder is that rarest of products that not only has the potential to change its market, but to change the world,” stated Horowitz in 2012. In the two years since Horowitz’s statement, NationBuilder has continued to gain momentum as a community outreach campaign control center that combines recruiting, publishing, messaging, and fundraising. NationBuilder integrates customer relationship databases with Accurate Append’s data appending that yields dynamic customer profiles; custom responsive websites with blogging capabilities and newsfeeds; and deeply integrated social media to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of any campaign.
We’re all looking for the next big thing…But sometimes, it’s already here.