RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Feb 1, 2012

Last post, we discussed how ever-shrinking differences between leading and trailing technologies was changing the process of innovation. We talked about how individual inventors, once subservient to organized research and development, may be approaching par with OR&D through access to cheap/powerful microprocessors, cloud-based computing, and networked communities. In this post, let’s discuss the things that those individuals will invent.

Historically, technology leaps that force us to rethink our world leave us temporarily overwhelmed and lost. Without something familiar to hold onto, we end-up acting like artists who are standing in front of large empty canvases, trying to figure out what to do with our infinite palate of colors.

The way to beak such creative logjams is to focus on solving specific problems. Why must we rely on the government to monitor the radiation from a nuclear power plant? What exactly is the water quality in my home town? If we could put accelerometers into every high school football helmet or mouthpiece, could we reduce the number of concussion injuries? The new innovators must focus on solving specific problems that have personal meaning to them.

2012 is shaping up to be the year of the engineer. I’m not just talking just about classically trained engineers who hold engineering degrees. I’m talking about the fact that advances in open source hardware, interchangeable modules, the Internet of Things, and the DIY movement are making engineers out of all of us.

We just need to focus on solving problems that are more important to us than to a company who is looking to solve a problem for the generic marketplace. Why does our street seem to get more potholes than those around it? Does our city have a traffic problem that could be solved by aggregating and studying live congestion data? Are there things at home or work that would better served through automation?

We also need to crank the innovation handle backward by examining the possibilities of the absurd. What if we put a sensor in every blade of grass on a baseball field? What if you could put a microprocessor in your favorite sweater? What if our local high school could launch its own satellite?

The future is either ours to invent, or ours to stare at aimlessly.

What’s it going to be?

Comments


2012 is shaping up to be the year of the engineer. I’m not just talking just about classically trained engineers who hold engineering degrees. I’m talking about the fact that advances in open source hardware, interchangeable modules, the Internet of Things, and the DIY movement are making engineers out of all of us.”

I love this – I think the move towards opensource education (CodeAcademy, Learn Python the Hard Way, etc) combined with the dropping cost of open hardware will make this a hotspot in the next few years… 

Here’s to specificity!

John Milinovich
April 23, 2012

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