Web Design – The First 100 Years

July 22nd, 2015 § 1 comment § permalink

Maciej Ceglowski on the current state of the web

The other part of our exponential hangover is how we build our businesses. The cult of growth denies the idea that you can build anything useful or helpful unless you’re prepared to bring it to so-called “Internet scale”. There’s no point in opening a lemonade stand unless you’re prepared to take on PepsiCo.

I always thought that things should go the other way. Once you remove the barriers of distance, there’s room for all sorts of crazy niche products to find a little market online. People can eke out a living that would not be possible in the physical world. Venture capital has its place, as a useful way to fund long-shot projects, but not everything fits in that mold.

I really want to build something that doesn’t require broad addoption to be successful.

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The Next Space Race

December 2nd, 2014 § 2 comments § permalink

I have very high hopes for humanity and look forward to witnessing the steady march of progress on everything from racism and gender equality to health care and economic opportunities. While these advances are of the utmost importance to our individual day-to-day lives the call of the stars holds a special place in my heart. I’ve long been a sucker for Science Fiction and the nerd in me really hopes that I will bear witness to the next space race.

This is why I’m so bullish on private companies like SpaceX and Planetary Resources taking up the mantel of near earth exploration. If we can find direct ways to profit from traveling outside of our atmosphere not only will the rate of innovation be vastly as increased, but so to will the imagination of those still bound to this pale blue dot.

Do not expect organizations like NASA and the ESA to be marginalized however. Unshackled from the burden of launching satellites and supplying the space station I expect those organizations to continue to take humanity to places that private companies can only dream. Space Agencies are able to look beyond a fiduciary responsibility to stockholders and focus on exploration and the advancement of science for the betterment of humanity. A race to the stars fueled by a symbiotic relationship between private and public entities sounds like a pretty potent cocktail.

After all if the history of human civilization is to span more than a few millennia surely it must take root beyond this precious and fragile world that gave us life. I just hope I live to see it.

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The 10 greatest changes of the past 1,000 years

October 31st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The Guardian’s list of the 10 greatest changes of the past 1,000 years has an interesting, if European centric, set of advancements. From castles to The Plague they make some very compelling arguments. The one that really hit home for me, however, was the invention of the future.

There can be no doubt that technology hugely changed the ways in which we lived and died in the 20th century. However, it also masks changes that are arguably even more profound. In 1900 few people seriously considered the future. William Morris and a few socialists wrote utopian visions of the world they wanted to see, but there was little serious consideration of where we were going as a society.

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Scorching Phoenix Plans For An Even Hotter Future

August 16th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

It seems to me that Phoenix is the epitome of how not to build a city. It’s in the middle of the desert, spread out and getting hotter. Not only do these factors contribute to climate change but it’s effectively creating its own heat.

Phoenix actually suffers from two heat problems. One is a product of growth. Desert nights don’t cool down they way they used to, because energy from the sun is trapped in roads and buildings, a phenomenon researchers call the “urban heat island effect.”

Yeah, it’s basically a heat source in the desert. Genius. The question is not will this be a ghost city in 2050, the question is whether it will be the first American city to fall prey to global warming. Houston, which is larger than Massachusetts, is certainly in the running to claim that dubious distinction.

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Rethinking what ‘Artificial Intelligence’ means

April 3rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

AI robot: how machine intelligence is evolving.

The AI community is beginning to question whether we should be so obsessed with recreating human intelligence. That intelligence is a product of millions of years of evolution and it is possible that it is something that will be very difficult to reverse engineer without going through a similar process. The emphasis is now shifting towards creating intelligence that is unique to the machine, intelligence that ultimately can be harnessed to amplify our very own unique intelligence.

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Why Kodak failed while Fujifilm has thrived

January 19th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

There is a great article on The Economist contrasting the seemingly imminent death of Kodak with Fujifilm’s successful reboot. After 137 years of innovation and a long stretch where they enjoyed a near-monopoly in America’s consumer film market Kodak appears to be preparing for a1 has just filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy that few expect them to emerge from. Given the advent of digital cameras I doubt many people are surprised but I think it’s interesting that the Japanese equivalent, Fujifilm, has been able to successfully pivot away from a dying industry.

As the article points out this wasn’t some radical change that caught Kodak flat footed, rather it was a gradual and inevitable market shift that both firms saw coming. In 1979 a Kodak executive penned a report that did an amazingly accurate job of predicting the next 30 years in consumer photography.

It was also certainly not for want of trying. They built one of the first digital cameras in 1975 and tried to mine their deep knowledge of photo chemicals for alternative uses in the drug market. Many were impressed by the venture-capital arm they created as well. Ultimately, however, they were not aggressive enough and they moved too slowly. While Kodak dithered Fujifilm was able to shed its dead weight while it successfully leveraged it’s expertise into new consumer markets like cosmetics and establish a new monopoly in the LCD market by producing screens with wide viewing angles.

Surprisingly, Kodak acted like a stereotypical change-resistant Japanese firm, while Fujifilm acted like a flexible American one.2

In 50-100 years which stalwart companies will find themselves in the same predicament? Will Google fail to move away from search when AI’s are able to mine information better than humans? Will Apple find itself locked out of the emerging wetware computer market that moves computing from our hands into our heads? How will Toyota differentiate itself in Minority Report type world were nobody owns their own car and instead rely upon a nearly identical fleet of driver-less vehicles?

Obviously these scenarios are closer to science fiction than to business planning but I find the mental exercise intriguing.

  1. Looks like the filed for bankruptcy while I was writing this []
  2. From the aforementioned Economist article []
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