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Can you tell me the best way to get to SSD Street?

by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - - November 2011
How do we know anything? And how confident can we be when using that knowledge as the basis to make important decisions?

I'm not talking here "cogito ergo sum" but the rather more down to earth matter of - how well can anyone today understand the SSD market? - and give you a reliable answer to a simple question like - what's the best way of getting to SSD street from wherever your starting point happens to be right now.

OK - this is the bit where you think - I ignored many other promising looking links to get to your mouse infested SSD site - and I hope you've got some good answers.

I sometimes say to SSD CEOs - when discussing the SSD market - that if they don't tell me a better story about what they're doing I'll just have to invent something more interesting. And I use these occasions to test if we're seeing the same picture.

Talking about SSDs is my favorite subject and I learn a lot from these conversations. But as the clock ticks towards each appointment I get mild panic attacks when I wonder if I will say something dumb....

It took me years coming to terms with the idea that I may actually be considered some type of industry expert on the SSD market who can see things more clearly than others. The trouble is I don't know what I know until someone asks me the right question. And then I think - why are they asking that? I thought the answer was obvious. (But the question was a complete surprise.)

My cousins' children asked me - how do I manage to earn a living on the web? (They thought it was cool.)

I said - it's the only way I can think of to earn a living as I'm not employable doing anything else. Unemployability in other directions being due to old age, unwillingness to travel, lack of the humility needed to engage in consulting skills (I can tell people how to solve their problems after minutes and don't need to stretch it out to billable months) and I have the bad habit of too much independent thinking. Lucky for me I enjoy what I do and it pays for the cat food.

Seeing how well the cats get fed around here (the neighbors' cats as well as my own are frequently seen in the 24 hour kitty diner) my inquisitors naturally asked - would it be just as easy for them to earn a living by starting a web site as it had been for me?

I said - only if you can go back in time and start your web site when standards for content were much lower than they are today and there was less competition so search-engines put you at the top of their results because no one else could be bothered to write about the same subject - and then strap yourself to a PC and type fast.

But seriously... they hadn't given up - how did I know what to write about subjects like storage and SSDs...

And my explanation started out something like this... A web site is like a village.

Do you remember that little village where my mother was born, and your grandmother?

Of course. (They have been there many times.)

Do you remember those old women who you meet when you're walking up the street - who say - Hello! - they know who you are even if you haven't been back there for 10 years?

(There is only one main street - and one shop - even though the village has spread out along the waterfront in the last 40 years and almost reaches the next village along. It's got mains water now - which it didn't have when I was a teenager. The horrible tasting water in my grandmother's well led me and my cousin to embark one day on a taste test of all our relative's wells to see which water tasted best. They all said their own water was the coolest and the best. But to me as a city kid it all tasted unpleasantly warm and sweet. I found in the end the best water was from my uncle's well - because he drew more every day to mix cement and feed his pigs. His wine was the best tasting too. It's surprising how different all the wines were even when the neighbors' vineyards all ran side by side along the same small stretch of road at the back of the village.)

I continue... with my story about the old woman on the main street in the village. And her connection to what I do now with the web site and the SSDs... (She wore black BTW. They always do.)

...You know that if you stop and talk to her she'll tell you who's still alive, who died recently, who's divorced, who's building an extension to their house, who's getting married, who's going to university, who's just lost their job and whether those relatives whose houses are back to back and who haven't spoken to each other for the past 20 years are still maintaining their feud...

Yes of course.

(As young kids we always stopped for a few minutes because we were told to be polite to such old ladies - but then before their stories really got going - we had to make our excuses and dash off up the hill - before the fish we'd caught got too warm in the sun - or before the milk from the shop went sour. Often it was sour - before it ever left the shop. That's what we said. But really - we had to rush off before we died of boredom - because we were young and remembering all the people we might be related to was old people's talk - not ours.)

Yes my young relations nod - of course they know those old women. They probably think my aunt (their grandmother is one such - now.)

Every village has them. If you want to know something like - did what's his name get the planning permit for their new house? or - where did the neighbors go on vacation - and who's feeding the chickens till they come back? That's the person you ask.

From outside the village - if you looked down from a satellite - or had just arrived at the pub in your hire car - and wanted to know where's the best place to eat - where they don't just reheat the food from yesterday - or who would be a reliable gardener to look after your granny's house while she's up in the city? These are the people you talk to.

It's not that the old ladies in the village are smart - or nosy - it's just that they've spent a long time walking up and down this same street - and they can't help but know what's going on. They piece together the jigsaw from the fragments of a thousand conversations - and unlike you - who drove up the street at high speed - and didn't even notice the old church which has stood there since the 13th century - the old ladies walk up there twice a day and tend the flowers in the graveyard.

In some ways the SSD market is like that village. It's not so long ago that no one even knew where it was. But the speculators think that the village will soon be a hot spot for tourists and the government is giving 90% free grants to builders to construct new hotels.

I'm already seeing some differences. There are more streets than I used to know - and there are some places - like Consumer Alley - where it's not advisable to walk when it's dark without a torch and a good stick - because of the many potholes and bad lighting.

Now you can download a free map on the web which shows you where you can eat on a Sunday and where you can park your car without getting it towed away. But be careful if your car is heavy or expensive. I remember there used to be a quarry where the car park is now - and the out of town contractors only spread a thin layer of light soil on top before they erected the parking signs.
click here to see our directory of SSD market analysts I've heard that some enterprising youngsters have started selling guides to the village which include a who's who? directory. What will they think of next?
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