Weekly Links: Ambient Computers, Drones, and Focus
For his final weekly column of his long career, Walt Mossberg talks about what he calls “ambient computing”, the penetration of IoT, AR, VR, and computers throughout our lives:
I expect that one end result of all this work will be that the technology, the computer inside all these things, will fade into the background. In some cases, it may entirely disappear, waiting to be activated by a voice command, a person entering the room, a change in blood chemistry, a shift in temperature, a motion. Maybe even just a thought. Your whole home, office and car will be packed with these waiting computers and sensors. But they won’t be in your way, or perhaps even distinguishable as tech devices. This is ambient computing, the transformation of the environment all around us with intelligence and capabilities that don’t seem to be there at all.
Great piece from Chris Anderson on the prospects of the commercial drone space. He makes great points about the true success of the technology being its penetration into business applications:
Although it might surprise you, I hope the future of drones is boring. As the CEO of a drone company, I obviously stand to gain from the rise of drones, but I don’t see that happening if we are focused on the excitement of drones. The sign of a successful technology is not that it thrills but that it becomes essential and accepted, fading into the wallpaper of modernity. Electricity was once a magic trick, but now it is assumed. The internet is going the same way. My end goal is for drones to be thought of as just another unsexy industrial tool, like agricultural machinery or generators on construction sites — as obviously useful as they are unremarkable.
Another good reminder from Fred Wilson on the importance of focus. He suggests setting no more than 3 “big efforts” in a year, the “must dos”. More than that is lying to yourself and losing steam on the ones you really care about:
But regardless of whether you have two, three, or four big efforts this year, you should test all of your initiatives agains the “must do” vs “can do” test. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. I’ve written about the importance of strategy and saying no. Strategy isn’t saying no. It is figuring out what is the most important thing for your company and deciding to focus on it and say no to everything else.