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What is Your Core?

In a typical Lego set, there is a core set of building blocks that make up the core of the object you are building.  My son just got a new Star Wars Tie fighter Lego set.  It relies on a few common objects, such as little flat Legos you might see in other sets, but overall, what you would see in this set would be much different than the core of Legos you would see in, say, a set to build a House, or even my 2 year old’s set of Duplos which builds just very simple objects geared towards people his age.  For a house set you will see more block-like structures.  For a Robot you may see more objects with holes in them, to accommodate for axles and gears.  For a plane you may see more flat structures for things like wings and a skinnier body.  In the end, you’re trying to build one core, unique object that is different than any of the other objects around it.

Too often I think entrepreneurs struggle to find out what their core is.  Social Networks should be ubiquitous.  Real time should be ubiquitous.  Open Standards should be ubiquitous. Search should be ubiquitous.  There are already companies out there that have these things as their core.  They’re the experts.  I think entrepreneurs and developers often get stuck (myself included) in this rut of fixing things the experts are already good at, rather than finding something new and innovative they can take ownership at.

There’s already a T-Shirt out there that says “Twitter destroyed my market segment, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt”.  Well, the reason that occurs is because developers are building core blocks that are already part of the Twitter core.  They are building something, the cockpit, the engine, the wheels, that were already destined to be replaced in the original scheme of things.  We developers like to see, and fix, the big picture – I know because I’m in the same boat (or ship?).  However, I think we need to be thinking bigger.  We need to be thinking about what our core is, not what’s missing from others’ cores.

When we talk about “filling holes”, I think the best position to be in is where others are filling the holes that you create.  You own the core that includes the missing parts.  The propellers of Twitter should be added to your core to make your airplane fly.  The Jet Engines of Facebook should be added to your core project to push it forward.  The wheels of Google should be added to your core project to get it off the ground.  But in the end, you still own the airplane.  You have control of the core.  All the other “cores” get to contribute back to your core to make it better.  Heck, you can even take pieces of your core and add it into the other existing cores to complement their space too – the power is you still own your space that way.

As you build new creations, think to yourself, am I contributing to others’ cores, or am I building the core that other cores can add their parts to and make better?  No one should be building another “social network” project.  No one should be building another “search engine” project.  The focus should be on the innovative creations we create, and how other “social networks” and “search engines” can make us better.  It should not be the other way around.

This is the “core” success story of the Building Block Web.  How are you letting Twitter or Facebook or Google make your core project better?