Admiral Shovel and the Toilet Roll. Current technology is on a path to fundamentally change how our society operates. Whether we can adapt to these changes remains to be seen. This is the best, most inspiring, and on point piece I’ve read this year.
One startup in this class at PIE is KS12. As a creative studio, they’re breaking the mold of what you typically might see at a tech incubator. Plus, they’re powered by WordPress. Pretty neat.
Four years ago: Here’s the problem: I, like many people I know, drive too many places all alone in my car. One person in a three ton metal vehicle that could easily transport five. To move all of that mass around, with such unused, waste… Continue reading →
Fortunately, whether or not Google makes a commenting widget isn’t that big a deal on its own. Maybe they will or maybe they won’t, and maybe it’ll fail again or maybe it won’t. But the key lesson to take away here is that we know a few things are wrong with the trade press in the technology world:
- In tech financial coverage, there is a focus on valuation, deals and funding instead of markets, costs, profits, losses, revenues and sustainability.
- In tech executive coverage, there is a focus on personalities and drama instead of capabilities and execution.
- In tech product coverage, there is a focus on features and announcements instead of evaluating whether a product is meaningful and worthwhile.
- Technology trade press doesn’t treat our industry as a business, so much as a “scene”; If our industry had magazines, we’d have a lot of People but no Variety, a Rolling Stone, but no Billboard.
There are many more examples of the flaws, but these are obvious ones. What we may not know, though is that there’s another flaw:
- For all but the biggest tech stories, any individual article likely lacks enough information to make a decision about the topic of that article.
So, our regulators go off, they blithely pass these laws, and they become part of the reality of our technological world. There are, suddenly, numbers that we aren’t allowed to write down on the Internet, programs we’re not allowed to publish, and all it takes to make legitimate material disappear from the Internet is the mere accusation of copyright infringement. It fails to attain the goal of the regulation, because it doesn’t stop people from violating copyright, but it bears a kind of superficial resemblance to copyright enforcement—it satisfies the security syllogism: “something must be done, I am doing something, something has been done.” As a result, any failures that arise can be blamed on the idea that the regulation doesn’t go far enough, rather than the idea that it was flawed from the outset.
Cory Doctorow — The coming war on general purpose computing
Innovation can’t happen without accepting the risk that it might fail. The vast and radical innovations of the mid-20th century took place in a world that, in retrospect, looks insanely dangerous and unstable. Possible outcomes that the modern mind identifies as serious risks might not have been taken seriously—supposing they were noticed at all—by people habituated to the Depression, the World Wars, and the Cold War, in times when seat belts, antibiotics, and many vaccines did not exist. Competition between the Western democracies and the communist powers obliged the former to push their scientists and engineers to the limits of what they could imagine and supplied a sort of safety net in the event that their initial efforts did not pay off. A grizzled NASA veteran once told me that the Apollo moon landings were communism’s greatest achievement.
Today’s belief in ineluctable certainty is the true innovation-killer of our age. In this environment, the best an audacious manager can do is to develop small improvements to existing systems—climbing the hill, as it were, toward a local maximum, trimming fat, eking out the occasional tiny innovation—like city planners painting bicycle lanes on the streets as a gesture toward solving our energy problems. Any strategy that involves crossing a valley—accepting short-term losses to reach a higher hill in the distance—will soon be brought to a halt by the demands of a system that celebrates short-term gains and tolerates stagnation, but condemns anything else as failure. In short, a world where big stuff can never get done.
Neal Stephenson — Innovation Starvation.
When I look around the world, the businesses that dominate don’t seem to be the ones that formed around process as a rallying cry. Rather, they adapted processes to bolster world-changing, market-creating ideas. The world doesn’t need a lean startup, or a developed customer, or a REWORK’d business; it needs solutions to problems, magic where previously there was darkness. How that magic happens is interesting and maybe even useful as a basis for other people running businesses to compare to, but it’s not a recipe for success.
Alex Payne — On Business Madness
Informationally, we are becoming lard-asses. In the pageview and ratings driven media economy, too much of the content these days is designed to be just like junk food to quickly boost quantifiable viewership. If you make content that is the intellectual equivalent of gummy bears,… Continue reading →
Today, MLK day even, two new sites launched on WordPress.com VIP that I’m personally pretty excited about. PandoDaily PandoDaily is a brand new tech site started by Sarah Lacy, former senior editor at TechCrunch. From her announcement post: We have one goal here at PandoDaily: To be… Continue reading →
Tech Companies are Media Companies and Vice Versa. This point needs to be reiterated more often.