Inspiration for Leaders

Enjoy this news and reflection blog brought to you from the LHRIC Technology Leadership Institute!

Monday, May 24, 2010

"The State of the Stuff" - A Morning with David Pogue

(Ed note: Due to David's intrinsic wittiness and edginess, the author finds no need to add any other layer of humor or irony to this blog post. Reader, don't look for any deep pedagogical or philosophical message in this entry - this morning, it's in praise of "the stuff".)

And who better than someone who makes a living in part by reviewing gadgets. It's dangerous to predict the future and "not look like an idiot", but David shared 3 of the biggest changes and trends in pop culture, then opened up his box of toys (the "mobile gadget funhouse") to make sure we are keeping pace with the state of the stuff. Without further adieu, the three biggest changes/trends are:

"Birth of the iThing". It's not a phone, and not quite a laptop. (Funny thing about predicting the future: in 2006, David wrote that he was pretty sure that Apple would never come out with a cellphone. In fact, Steve Jobs offered Verizon a cellphone but wanted carte blanch as to the design AND offered a 5 year exclusive for Verizon. Verizon and ATT thought about it and said, no thanks. Sprint declined as well. Cingular said, "um, sure." History speaks for itself.)

The iPhone had features that no other device had, and did things that nothing has been able to do before, by way of these gorgeous little "apps" - slim, single purpose programs that turn the phone into just about anything. Most apps were either free or a dollar. (Music professor turned millionaire, part one: Ocarina, a nifty little app written my a music professor in 2007, turned around 1.5 million copies by 2009. Essentially, you blow into the microphone of the phone and play it like a wind instrument.)

"Cellphone meets the Internet". Why pay $2.00 for 411 on a cellphone when you can dial 800 GOOG 411 from any phone and be connected for free to your destination? Just by stating the city and business type, David found a Starbucks in Briarcliff and jokingly ordered 150 lattes for the TLI audience. Need a real answer with human intelligence behind it? Use ChaCha (800-2chacha) to speak a question, and receive a text answer. Apparently 10,000 freelance agents are paid .20 to research your answer and send it back to your phone. Nowadays we're looking at services that convert your voicemails to text that can be received via email or by text message with an audio recording of the actual voicemail, attached. Services like Callwave actually "listen" to your voicemail and send you the "gist" of it via text message, making its own interpretation of the key ideas. And Google Voice, for free, transcribes your voice mail.

Web 2.0 Takes Over. We all know by now that in a web 2.0 world, the audience provides the material. Facebook has 350,000,000 members and adds new ones at a rate of 5% each month. Microsoft bought 1.6% of Facebook at 240 million dollars and David reminded us that it's basically run by college kids.

Craigslist, offering free classified ads, may be killing the American newspaper. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal allegedly got one inch smaller last year.

And Wikipedia, where "any idiot says whatever they want and smarter people fix it."

(Dudes turned billionaires, part one:did you know that two young gentlemen sold YouTube to Google for 1.7 billion dollars?)

Other smaller success stories: - outsource a chore. List grunt work you want done, and individuals bid on who can do it the cheapest. - make microloans to business plans and get 14% interest. Bank cut out of the middle. - carpooling database. List a trip or commute; other people sign up to join you. - part of British government website - start a petition about anything. Non binding, thankfully, but everybody gets to keep tabs on what people care about. - click off your symptoms; form a data map of maladies. Google can pinpoint flu outbreaks 2 weeks before CDC does! - discern fact from fiction, finally.

What does this mean?
With all this technology, innovation just "splinters" - there are no real "killer" apps.
Real time is better - email becomes outdated.
The ego generation cares nothing for privacy. No explanation needed.
Twitter people seem to be a cut above with an average age of 35, and an average income of 75K. Be on the lookout for a clever book that David is publishing, compiling the most clever of his followers Twitter feeds in response to questions he poses.
The challenge- things getting smaller, but our fingers are staying the same size. True enough!

The good news: it's true that no one is expected to know everything, and the "primary infatuated", as David calls them, are "geeks and the media." The rest of us can be confident that if we continually fix our eyes on the bigger vision, where schools continue to improve and modernize, the toys will always fall into place.


Jean Benitez said...

Thanks for capturing the tips and the mood! Well done. Now I can find someone to bid on cleaning my gutters!!

Mike Curtin said...

I was simultaneously entertained and disappointed by David Pogue's talk. He was funny and pointed out a lot of interesting web sites and gadgets. But he never asked any of the big questions. What does it all mean? What are the implications for our culture and our schools? His talk was focused on the micro when I wanted to hear about the macro. I guess in the end, he's a gadget guy focused on examining cool, little doo-dads through blog posts and a relatively brief column in the Times. This myopic focus prevents him from thinking/talking about how all the little pieces fit together.