A lot has happened since this blog was born six year ago. For example, the iPhone had just redefined the smartphone as an appliance for the masses as opposed to the preferred email device of corporate road warriors. Today, 56% of all U.S. adults now own a smartphone. And if you think that adoption rate is impressive, consider that since the iPad was introduced in April 2010–just 20 months ago–34% of all U.S. adults have integrated a tablet computer into their lives.
The flood of smart mobile devices into the marketplace has forced companies to change the way they create and deliver content, products and services. Rather than assuming that their customers seek information or want to make purchases from homogeneous desktop machines, companies are working to ensure that customer experiences are not biased by time-zone, physical location, or the size of a screen.
And although this customer accommodation movement will have significant impact on companies and the economy, I’m finding myself becoming disenchanted with it all. It seems that so much of our innovation effort is being focused on making, publishing, sharing, and converting bits into illuminated pixels for consumption, that something important is getting lost in translation.
I get it. Humans have fundamental need to communicate. But is it possible, that the communications pendulum has swung a little too far in one direction? In the rush to share our bits with the world, might we have simultaneously estranged ourselves temporarily from another deep human need to get our hands dirty while building physical things? Could we be a little bit out of balance, having spent too much time communicating with bits and too little time actually making stuff out of atoms?
I don’t know. But I’m going to find out.
Over the past six years, I’ve written over 250 articles about the communications revolution. Now that the revolution is nearly complete, I’m feeling a need to start covering other topics, such as people who are using our new communications technologies to collaborate with others in order to build physical things.
I don’t know how it is gonna work out, but I know it will be interesting. Are you interested in joining me for the ride?