The Power is in the Role Models

When people say something cannot be done one of the best ways to disprove that is to do it. Nowhere do I think this is more true than in the field of energy where organizations are fighting climate change. A few interesting role models that came across my desk this morning include:

  1. Apple is now globally powered by 100 percent renewable energy
  2. Portugal ran on 100% renewable energy for a month

Articles like these remind us what is possible when we put our time and energy behind something.

Objects versus Apps

After finishing the Steve Jobs video from yesterday’s post I thought Jobs took an interesting position on what software companies should do. He said they should spend more time building objects than apps.

I thought this point was important because it suggests that software companies should focus on building the tools that the makers are going to use and then non-technical organizations should hire software developers to build the custom tools they need to do their work. This seems to imply that many of the challenges faced by organizations were specific enough that off the shelf software was not sufficient. Or the cost of marketing software is so expensive that it is just as cheap if not cheaper to pay an engineer to implement a custom solution using objects sold by other companies than it is to buy an off the shelf solution from a software vendor.

The best choice is going to depend on the organizations usage. My own experience shows that off the shelf solutions are great for pilots and small scale operations but as usage scales up, the cost exceeds what the organization wants to pay or building a custom solution looks less expensive. Another challenge is the organization sometimes has so many custom needs for their software that the vendor becomes an outsourced custom developer for the organization. The tension between serving a large customer and building a real product then festers. The product then either becomes a salad of needs from different users that make no sense together, or the organization has to go without features it needs and users begin to resent it.

PAX East 2018

When I was at Berkman Klein a couple years my co-workers invited me to go to PAX East with them. PAX East is a convention that celebrates gaming in all its forms from video games to tabletop and card games. While I have always enjoyed games and have played other people’s video game systems, I had largely taken a break from gaming during my college and law school years. PAX East brought me back into this fun field.

The neat thing about PAX is the variety of things to do. There is a giant expo hall with tons of vendors sharing their latest wares and technologies. There are tournaments around your favorite classics like Mario Kart. You can try things you have not tried before like virtual reality. It’s a chance to branch out and experience new types of storytelling.

I decided my goal this year was to participate in tournaments. I showed up and signed up for a VR tournament, a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe tournament for Switch, and a Super Smash Brothers tournament. I do not know if I will win any of them but I think having a chance to play against others will be fun. I will get to try a new VR experience and some old classics.

Ultimately gaming is a big industry that still feels like it has not quite gone mainstream. PAX East is a chance to see new and creative entries in the field and try things without putting any of my own money on the line. If you are not a gamer I recommend attending to get a sense of the world of possibilities in gaming.

Video Friday - Steve Jobs Sloan Lecture

Yesterday I started watching clips from this talk by Steve Jobs at MIT while he was at NeXT. A few interesting tidbits include:

  1. Jobs love of object oriented software programming as a big leap over previous technologies. He explained how object oriented programming let people write programs much more quickly.
  2. Jobs talked about the importance of betting on people. He notes: “I now take a longer-term view on people. We’re building a team here and we’re going to do great stuff for the next decade and not just the next year. So what do I need to do to help the person that is screwing up learn, versus how do I fix the problem?”
  3. “The code that is the fastest to write is the code you don’t write. We do this by enabling developers to use objects and libraries that others have written.”

Augmented Reality

Last night my colleague Eric shared the following tweet with me:

I thought it was neat on two fronts: it looked like it did a good job of snapping the augmented layer to the real world and I often get lost indoors. Despite the organization system I often fail and waste time trying to locate things in retail stores. I can see this being a helpful tool for navigating super stores like IKEA or a Super Wal-Mart. But I do not think this is the kind of thing everyone will use. It will instead optimize the output of folks who are shopping for platforms like Instacart.

I believe that visualization is compression for information. Effective visualization, like the MAPC Equity Agenda Website, can convey things that would otherwise take thousands of words to understand. Organizations that learn how to harness augmented reality will be able to more quickly train their workers and tell stories that were not previously possible.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.