Core Needs

“People are good and trustworthy and generally just concerned with getting through the day,” Newmark says. If most people are good and their needs are simple, all you have to do to serve them well is build a minimal infrastructure allowing them to get together and work things out for themselves. Any additional features are almost certainly superfluous and could even be damaging.”

Craig Newmark (of CraigsList fame)

So what are there real needs?

I’m trying to (naively?) boil down all the successful software, websites and web applications out there and see if it can be mapped into as few categories as possible:

  1. Communication (Social networks, Basecamp, etc.)
  2. Organization (Google Docs, Flickr, Backpack, etc.)
  3. Information (Content websites, News websites, Search engines, etc.)
  4. Entertainment (YouTube,, Blogs/Journals/Twitter, etc.)
  5. E-Commerce (Amazon, Paypal, etc.) (Category added thanks to Ankesh)

Note that the website that you use may fit into different categories in different circumstances.

The idea is to not search for a comprehensive or accurate classification.

The idea is: If you brainstorm an idea or come across someone else’s idea, can you trace it back to one of these categories? If yes, what does it mean? If no, what does it mean?

Is this a useful angle to evaluate an idea, or not?

9 thoughts on “Core Needs

  1. Except, innovation is revolutionary only when people don’t know they need what you have :)

    If you asked someone from the 19th century about “How do you thinks telegraphs of the future should be?” …

    He’d reply “they should be small enough for a lady to carry un-aided and you’ll be able to pay a street urchin to climb up the nearest pole to connect them whenever you need to send a message”

    (I read that somewhere, I think … it’s stuck in my head)

  2. @t3rmin4t0r Good point, that would mean the new technology is more convenient or affordable. However, from the creator’s point of view, do the categories still hold?

  3. At least 2 more categories are missing.

    Brokerage / middleman / connector (Job websites / Dating websites / freelance websites / RE websites / travel websites / ebay)
    Selling / ecommerce (amazon / PayPal)

  4. Classification is very much essential .

    At a different level , nature is symmetrical in its own way and most of the problems are similar to few other problems , if we draw parallels its easy to get solutions too , we need not to think from scratch .

    Most of the times i get some idea , i quickly think if something like that already exists then i try to map my idea with few other existing things to see if its better , else drop it

  5. @Ankesh I think the brokerage / connector falls under information or communication respectively. Excellent point about the ecommerce store.

    @Sashank That was partially the idea behind this classification. On the other hand, I think certain classes like social networking did not exist before.

  6. what does it mean by before :) ???

    Each are these classes , existed in one or the other form even before internet came

    1. @Sashank What I mean is that “social circles” always existed before, but the “social networking” that we see today is considerably different in nature. Consider Facebook and Twitter, they are like an “ambient” environment where you kind of hear the chatter of what people are doing in the background. I don’t know if that kind of facility was available before. (This is not the same as gossip because people themselves are writing).

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