Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

This Week in the Future: Jerks, Tools and Tech

Steve Martin in The Jerk

Steve Martin in The Jerk

What do you think of the iPhone? What do you think of Windows 8? What do you think of the iPad mini? What do you think it means that DirectX 11.1 will be Windows 8 exclusive? What do you think of the Samsung Galaxy S3? How do you think an Ultrabook compares to a Macbook Air? Who will win? What does is mean for the future?

As you can imagine, I get questions like these all the time. From journalists to guests at cocktail parties, people are really interested in the newest device or the latest release and how it might give us a window into our technological future. They are usually very excited. I am not.

Don’t get me wrong; I love all new devices as much as everyone else. I just can’t seem to muster the breathless anticipation that this next device or release will somehow change everything. When I hear the hype and see the commercials, I think of Steve Martin yelling, “The new phone book is here! The new phone book is here!”

In 1979, Steve Martin co-wrote and starred in The Jerk, a nutty comedy directed by the great Carl Reiner. If you haven’t seen the movie or haven’t watched it lately, go and have a look. It’s a treat. Part time capsule and part laugh-out-loud comedy, it’s of a very different time but still holds up… mostly.

The scene I can’t get out of my head is when Martin’s character, Navin R. Johnson, sees that the newest edition of the phone book has arrived. He rushes to the delivery man yelling, “The new phone book is here! The new phone book is here!” He then flips to the J’s and finds his name. He’s excited because his name is now in print and big things are coming his way. It’s never a good idea to dissect a joke too much, but the crux of the absurd humor in the scene rests on the audience’s question: “Why would anyone be so excited about the newest edition of the phone book?” Indeed.

When I think about the future and what this seemingly endless parade of new smartphones, computers, tablets and software can tell us about the future is that we will reach a point when the excitement about their release will seem as silly as getting overjoyed about the phone book. “The new iPhone is here! The new iPhone is here!”

I posed this question to a roomful of futurists yesterday. Yes, it just so happened I was on a Skype call with the renowned futurist and trend spotter Faith Popcorn and her team over at the BrainReserve. I talked about The Jerk and waved my hands around yelling, “The new phonebook is here!” They smiled and replied, “It only seems like human nature. People need something tangible. People want something they can hold on to. Each new release gives them that. It’s only human.”

Faith and her team are right. People need a tangible thing. It’s as though this new product will tell them a secret about the future. By holding it in their hands, it will someone give them a glimpse of what’s to come. Simon Trewin, an agent from the William Morris Endeavor Agency in London, captured this very point when he described walking into the Apple Store in London: “It’s like you’re walking into the future,” he explained. “The way the Apple Store looks, the way it’s designed, the way it smells, the temperature… everything is done in such a way that you feel like you’ve just walked off the high street and into the future. And how that you are here if you buy something Apple gives you the promise that you can take a little piece of the future home with you.”

That’s a lovely image, but I also think that we, the buying public, are getting worn out by the hype. We know there’s going to be a new phone from Apple and Samsung and all the rest of the manufacturers. We know that each holiday season there’s going to be a new fleet of computers and tablets and gadgets to enthrall us. It’s like a weird natural cycle; winter, spring, summer, back-to-school, fall, holiday releases.

Never missing a trend, these companies are starting to make fun of each other and themselves. The Mac vs. PC TV ads highlighted this in their ongoing sly-grinned battle between Apple products and Windows-based computers. Even more pointed are the new Samsung ads that poke fun of the people waiting in line for the next release of the iPhone. They’re funny because they’re true, yet we still buy into the battle between tangible things. This thing is better than that thing. This new gadget is so much better than that old gadget you have. It’s why so many people like sports and courtroom dramas: they’re battles between two similar but opposing sides, and one person always has to win. It’s clear and easy to understand.

I think there’s something terribly wrong with this. All of this makes me think about hammers.

Technology is just a tool. Gadgets, devices, software, wed sites, apps… they’re all just tools. Technology is just a hammer. As humans, we love to admire our tools. Go to any home improvement store to catch a glimpse of this. But a tool is just a tool; a hammer is just a hammer. What’s really important is what you can do with the tool. What really makes a hammer interesting is that you can build a house with it. When we admire a tool for the tool’s sake, we miss the potential of what that tool can do for us. We miss how it can affect the lives of people. We miss the real reason why that tool is important in the first place.

What can the endless parade of gadgets, upgrades and releases teach us about the future? We may begin to feel a little absurd ourselves when we realize that we are spending a lot of time admiring hammers.

**********

DISCLAIMERI am Intel’s futurist. I am currently on sabbatical from Intel.  My thoughts, observations and analyses are mine personally and I am not speaking on behalf of Intel.

**********

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

Latest Stories
From 2013, NTT Communications has been providing cPaaS service, SkyWay. Its customer’s expectations for leveraging WebRTC technology are not only typical real-time communication use cases such as Web conference, remote education, but also IoT use cases such as remote camera monitoring, smart-glass, and robotic. Because of this, NTT Communications has numerous IoT business use-cases that its customers are developing on top of PaaS. WebRTC will lead IoT businesses to be more innovative and address...
IT organizations are moving to the cloud in hopes to approve efficiency, increase agility and save money. Migrating workloads might seem like a simple task, but what many businesses don’t realize is that application migration criteria differs across organizations, making it difficult for architects to arrive at an accurate TCO number. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Joe Kinsella, CTO of CloudHealth Technologies, will offer a systematic approach to understanding the TCO of a cloud application...
"With Digital Experience Monitoring what used to be a simple visit to a web page has exploded into app on phones, data from social media feeds, competitive benchmarking - these are all components that are only available because of some type of digital asset," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sudarshan Krishnamurthi, a Senior Manager, Business Strategy, at Cisco Systems, discussed how IT and operational technology (OT) work together, as opposed to being in separate siloes as once was traditional. Attendees learned how to fully leverage the power of IoT in their organization by bringing the two sides together and bridging the communication gap. He also looked at what good leadership must entail in order to accomplish this, and how IT managers can be the ...
With Cloud Foundry you can easily deploy and use apps utilizing websocket technology, but not everybody realizes that scaling them out is not that trivial. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Roman Swoszowski, CTO and VP, Cloud Foundry Services, at Grape Up, will show you an example of how to deal with this issue. He will demonstrate a cloud-native Spring Boot app running in Cloud Foundry and communicating with clients over websocket protocol that can be easily scaled horizontally and coordinate...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Carter, CEO of Approyo, discussed the basic set up and solution for an SAP solution in the cloud and what it means to the viability of your company. Chris Carter is CEO of Approyo. He works with business around the globe, to assist them in their journey to the usage of Big Data in the forms of Hadoop (Cloudera and Hortonwork's) and SAP HANA. At Approyo, we support firms who are looking for knowledge to grow through current business process, where even 1%...
Deep learning has been very successful in social sciences and specially areas where there is a lot of data. Trading is another field that can be viewed as social science with a lot of data. With the advent of Deep Learning and Big Data technologies for efficient computation, we are finally able to use the same methods in investment management as we would in face recognition or in making chat-bots. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Gaurav Chakravorty, co-founder and Head of Strategy Development ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Channels, a cybersecurity firm, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Channels, Inc. offers several products and solutions to its many clients, helping them protect critical data from being compromised and access to computer networks from the unauthorized. The company develops comprehensive data encryption security strategie...
The goal of Continuous Testing is to shift testing left to find defects earlier and release software faster. This can be achieved by integrating a set of open source functional and performance testing tools in the early stages of your software delivery lifecycle. There is one process that binds all application delivery stages together into one well-orchestrated machine: Continuous Testing. Continuous Testing is the conveyer belt between the Software Factory and production stages. Artifacts are m...
"DX encompasses the continuing technology revolution, and is addressing society's most important issues throughout the entire $78 trillion 21st-century global economy," said Roger Strukhoff, Conference Chair. "DX World Expo has organized these issues along 10 tracks with more than 150 of the world's top speakers coming to Istanbul to help change the world."
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
Vulnerability management is vital for large companies that need to secure containers across thousands of hosts, but many struggle to understand how exposed they are when they discover a new high security vulnerability. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, John Morello, CTO of Twistlock, will address this pressing concern by introducing the concept of the “Vulnerability Risk Tree API,” which brings all the data together in a simple REST endpoint, allowing companies to easily grasp the severity of t...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to w...
Cloud resources, although available in abundance, are inherently volatile. For transactional computing, like ERP and most enterprise software, this is a challenge as transactional integrity and data fidelity is paramount – making it a challenge to create cloud native applications while relying on RDBMS. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Claus Jepsen, Chief Architect and Head of Innovation Labs at Unit4, will explore that in order to create distributed and scalable solutions ensuring high availa...
Connecting to major cloud service providers is becoming central to doing business. But your cloud provider’s performance is only as good as your connectivity solution. Massive Networks will place you in the driver's seat by exposing how you can extend your LAN from any location to include any cloud platform through an advanced high-performance connection that is secure and dedicated to your business-critical data. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Paul Mako, CEO & CIO of Massive Networks, wil...