Friday, February 20, 2015

IoT Is Not Mobile on the Wall

I’ve started listening to a16z podcasts during some meals. I recommend them if you're interested in the future of technology. About a month ago I listened to this fascinating conversation between Benedict Evans, Preethi Kasireddy, and Zal Bilmoria, though I'm just getting around to writing about it now (better late than never). Post-CES, they try to tackle the question of, where is this Internet of Things we keep hearing about? Is there an Internet of Things, or is it just “things connected to the Internet”?

Around 1:49 Benedict Evans makes the most compelling argument: our grandparents could have told us how many electric motors they owned: one in the car, one in the fridge, and one in the vacuum cleaner; and now motors are so common that the side mirror of your car probably has a dozen. But no one goes out and buys electric motors; they buy a microwave, a blender, a coffee machine, etc. – devices that solve a problem that just happen have an electric motor as part of the solution. So it is with the IoT: other than early adopters. it will enter our lives slowly, as we buy device that solve our problems by adding a bit more intelligence to existing devices, a bit at a time.

The analogy makes sense, but it has one fatal flaw: the functionality of electric motors is self-contained (with the exception of transportation, but we are discussing household devices here), whereas connected devices are not self-contained by definition.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Your Email Newsletter Is Not Spam, It's Just Information Overload

If you're like me you might have noticed that it's become really common for people to say something like "We hate spam too" when asking you to sign up for their mailing list. The problem isn't spam though. It's just information overload, plain and simple. I want to read Medium's suggested posts, and Twitter's relevant tweets. I'm really interested in the new feature your startup just rolled out, and I want to get your event updates, because you have some really cool speakers. But I just. Can't. Keep. Up. So you'll forgive me when I don't subscribe. It's not because I think your emails are spam. It's just because I need a diet.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why Innovation In Payments Is So Rare

I think a lot about payments, even though I haven't worked in the sector for over five years. I just think it's mind-blowingly cool that this abstract concept we call money manages to work, everywhere around the world, in mutually recognizable forms, not with perfect interoperability but damn near close to it on a local level, with universal understanding that it is simultaneously a medium to measure value (a price); a medium to transact (making a purchase); and at a minimally higher level of financial literacy, a value store (an account).

Yet as cool as a concept as money is, retail payments in the US haven't changed all that much since the advent of credit cards. Your options are basically check, card, or cash. I was reading an interview this morning that StrictlyVC did with Todd Chaffee of Institutional Venture Partners, that goes a long way towards explaining why.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Lyft vs Uber in a Broader Cultural Context

About a week ago I wrote about how the United States was reindustrializing, and how a personal connection to the production of goods, or a personality in the case of services, was a key component of the new offerings. Today Mashable wrote an article called "Why Lyft is trimming its pink mustache" that speaks to this topic in the context of the Lyft vs Uber, David vs Goliath battle.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I Read the NY Times Offline. It Sucked. Here Are Eight Reasons Why

A while ago, a migraine forced me to read the NY Times in its print edition, something I haven't done in years. It was such an awful user experience. Here are the reasons why:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not to Defend the North Koreans, But ...

Did it occur to anyone that making a movie about assassinating the leader of another country, in peacetime no less, might be in really bad taste? Not even a historical leader, like Hitler, but an actual, living, sitting leader.

I don't find it offensive; I wouldn't advocate for Sony to be censored; nor do I condone cyberattacks on Sony or making terrorist threats on movie theaters. It's just that the premise of the movie is in bad taste.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Reindustrialization of America

Society is undergoing a process of reindustrialization. Unlike the previous century of industrialization, which produced most of the basic tools and features of our daily lives, the current reindustrialization is less about inventing new categories and more about rethinking how things are done from a new perspective. [1]