What do you think of the new iPhone?
A reasonable question, but I couldn't say much as I didn't have one yet. I was with a very eclectic group of people that got together a few times a year for conversation and a month had passed since the iPhone went on sale. About a third of the people in the room were wearing one... the early tech adopter. Somehow the Icelandic musician who asked the question thought I was one of them.
I told her I was waiting. Buying one now would be be a waste of opportunity. There are times you can afford something, but it isn't worth the cost of what you have to give up to get it. That is usually time or money, but in this case it was insight. I was more interested in learning how people used a smartphone rather than playing with one myself. Using one too early might color my perception.
A big smile broke out on her face - tíma! You understand tíma!
Tīma is an Icelandic verb that means you don't buy something - not because you can't afford it, but rather what you give up in time or money is greater than it's value.
In the last half of the 90s I was interested in portable and ubiquitous computing. Moore's Law was still very much in evidence and by the mid 90s we were seeing consumer level digital replacements for analog devices. Digital cameras, handheld GPS receivers, mp3 players ... It made sense to combine functionality where possible.
We mashed a handheld Linux box with a small hard disk and a WiFi radio. It was piano wire and chewing gum hackery, but I've rarely worked with a better palantir into the future. A few similar devices came together - a GPS was linked to the Linux box. A cameraphone that could send and receive photos over the cellular network. All were ugly and designed to play with interfaces, but it had become clear multiple functions would merge into one device.
We had a vague idea of what the future would be - one paper from 1996 suggested a handheld computer with power of a workstation was possible and that any number of sensors would be attached. We didn't know if everything would go into one box or if you would have a local area network on and near your body. What was likely and what could we invent. There were several drivers in our scenarios - the evolution of batteries, Moore's Law, low power computing, and the evolution of radio. In retrospect we slightly overestimated Moore's Law (as did most people), got batteries and power management about right, and were in the ballpark on radio even though we wildly missed the path it would take. We based much of what we were doing on an iPhone-like device (down to the touch screen and GPS) that we predicted would enter around 2005. We knew we weren't smart enough to predict the specifics, so we never published them. To give a sense of our misdirection, we thought Nokia and Microsoft would be the major players.
We knew this would be an interesting device, but completely missed the importance of apps. We saw it as a computer you would wear most of the time - a computer with sensors and a connection to the Internet. The problem was it wasn't quite close enough to you. That's where we became interested in ubiquitous computation. Watches, belts, shoes and canes were all considered. Interfaces were all over the place including a ring that listened to h ow you rubbed your fingers, but that's a different story. Our gut feeling told us the watch was perhaps the most important real estate on your body if you could convince someone to wear one. It was clear that a watch ultimately would do quite a bit more than just telling time.
There are technologies that greatly enable other parts of the economy. Electric power did much more than illuminate lights and run electric motors. Railroads did more than move people and things around. PCs did much more than standard computing. There was a great inflation of what was possible. Another great inflation with the Internet and web had an enormous impact. But it didn't end there. The smartphone has created yet another wave that is large enough to be considered on its own.
Tíma indeed. I can't afford the risk of coloring my perception of the Apple WATCH by focusing on my specific use case. By waiting a year or so I have the advantage of avoiding first generation hardware.
I knew the iPhone was going to be important. I didn't know if it would be successful for Apple or if someone else would made something better in the category, but it was clear it was worthy of study.
An anthropologist friend told me when you study the use of a new technology it is important to remain a bit aloof initially. Carefully observe how other people use it. What new use cases develop? Did its designers intuit how people might use it? Where are their problems, where are the success and where is the serendipity. Only after you have a rough view of the land do you jump in and examine your own use case.
I'm reasonably convinced a wrist computer is extremely important and we're finally at the level where a viable first generation is possible. Batteries and power management remain issues and the state of radio plus the potential importance of privacy are dictating Apple's approach. It is a real computer, but it is a networked extension to the iPhone and a few other devices and services that are beginning to emerge. What it does may represent a distillation of computation that is centrally important and perhaps unique to its user.
Apps were a startling surprise for the iPhone - last year Apple's app market was larger than Hollywood and it is growing at a much greater rate. I suspect the watch will provide a visit to the land of Serendip. I don't know if Apple will make the first viable example, but suspect they stand a good chance as they get other dimensions of value that are opaque to much of the tech world. I also suspect there will be a good period of a year or more marked by confusion about what the watch does and what it is useful for. It is also clear there is an enormous amount of technological and social headroom in this class of computing.
Given a few years many will exclaim how obvious it was... I agree with Horace when he says this is more of a real estate play than a watch and bare wrists are more interesting than those that currently host watches.
I tíma my purchase of an Apple WATCH.
oh yeah -- it is roughly pronounced tee-ma
I love to roast produce. Here's a vinaigrette that worked well on a few roasted carrots. There are a number of ways to roast carrots. I cut them into sticks about 3 inches long by 3/8 of an inch on the sides. Equal size isn't important or good as some variation during roasting is interesting. Once chopped spread them out on a pan (rimmed is better), drizzle with olive oil (a few tablespoons) and roast at 475° for about 15 minutes if you watch them like a hawk. 450° is better if you want a bit of latitude before they burn - but the taste at the higher temperature is better. This is enough for a lot of carrots - I probably did 4 pounds.
Vinaigrette for Roasted Veggies
° 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
° 2 tbl white wine vinegar
° 1 tbl minced garlic
° 1 tbl Dijon mustard
° 3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves finely minced
° 1 spring fresh rosemary leaves finely minced
° put it in a jar and shake 'til it emulsifies
° pour it over your roasted veggies ('told you it was simple:-) It will keep about a day in the fridge