Fathers Day Technology and Things a Coming
06/17/2012 4 Comments
This morning I received a very nice Father’s Day card from Ellen, my lovely wife, by way of Jacquic Lawson Cards and a Kindle Fire, which arrived a few days before Fathers Day. The Kindle Fire has changed my reading habits, I am spending less time on my laptop and more on the Kindle. In addition to changing my reading habits, Kindle and Amazon are changing commercial economics as we know it. More in this below, but first let me tell a story that started with an e-mail.
Last night my son-in-law Darrin Jones who is the Director of Server Intelligence at Microsoft sent me an e-mail, and asked if I had read the May Issue of Wired, especially the Interview with Marc Andreessen. We often share information on the latest technology and technology driven commerce. I had not read the article. Remembering a recent e-mail from Amazon offing magazines for the Kindle, I picked up my Kindle, turned on the WiFi and checked the Amazon Market Place. If I down load a Wired app, I could purchase the May issue of Wired. In 20 minutes after receiving the e-mail, I was reading the May Issue of Wired and the recommended Marc Andreessen interview. I had not left my very comfortable chair.
In the Interview Andreessen had this to say about Amazon and Borders, which was my favorite book store in Roseville, before it was driven out of business by Amazon. Borders was my best hang out when Ellen was shopping in the Mall, or when we had time between appointments.
“Amazon is a force for human progress and culture and economics in a way that Border never was.”
Now between appointments, and while Ellen is shopping, I hang out a Starbucks with my Kindle. Where I can read books, WSJ and Wired or hundreds of other publications without leaving my chair.
In Andreessen’s view technology is going to remake the whole economy. It has changed shopping and in his view “the next stops are eduction, financial services, health care and ultimately government. . . “
CNN has more support for the Andreessen’s view that technology has changed commerce, in an article on “showrooming” this morning. Brick and mortar stores sales are down and online store sales are up. According to Lisa Hill, Buxton, in her presentation to the ERC earlier this month 30% of all sales are now over the Internet. Brick and Mortar stores are seeing more people come into their stores to look over the merchandise, taking notes, photos on smartphones and leaving the store without making a purchase. This is ‘showrooming.” Those photo and note takers are then going home, or to the office, and logging on to the Internet and ordering the very product they saw in the show room, often delivered the next day right to their door. More information on “showrooming” HERE.
I think that education will soon be swept up and changed by technology. Consider this article in the Wall Street Journal: Sebastian Thrun: What’s Next for Silicon Valley?
. . . Mr. Thrun set up a company, Udacity, that joins many other companies attacking the problem of how to deliver the optimal online education. “What I see is democratizing education will change everything,” he says. “I have an unbelievable passion about this. We will reach students that have never been reached. I can give my love of learning to other people. I’ve stumbled into the most amazing Wonderland. I’ve taken the red pill and seen how deep Wonderland is.”
“But Wonderland is also crazy!” I interrupt.
Ah, another Thrun project that can radically disrupt the old way of doing things. “But isn’t that exactly what we should be doing? I’m going part-time at Google to pursue this. I really care. Isn’t this the American history? Can’t you pinpoint almost everything that happened back to some technological breakthrough?” Indeed, this is going to disrupt public schools and teachers unions and universities and tenured professors and so on, Mr. Thrun effectively interjects: “The dialogue always focuses on what’s going to happen to the institutions. I’m totally siding with the students.”
I ask why he always takes on these quantum changes instead of trying something incremental. “That’s what Google taught me. Aim higher. Udacity is my playground—to radically experiment and find out. I’ve seen the light.”
Now Mr. Thrun is talking like a true Silicon Valley entrepreneur. “The AI class was the first light. Online education will way exceed the best education today. And cheaper. If this works, we can rapidly accelerate the progress of society and the world. If you think Facebook is neat, wait five to 10 years. So many open problems will be solved.”
I’ve met a few others like Sebastian Thrun. When you ask them why they took on a huge challenge, they ask: Why not?
The real problem is that Education is an entrenched bureaucratic organization that is being blindsided by the technology just like Borders and Brick and Mortar stores are by Amazon. More on the blindsiding of education in a future post!