So, Amazon engaged in an amazing bit of free advertising Sunday night when it announced its research initiative, Prime Air, on 60 Minutes. From the moment the piece aired, sectors of the internet have been abuzz with the news.
But what has amused me the most has been the response of the technology media, led by the likes of Wired. If these writers are to be believed, if man was meant to receive packages by air, God would have given bicycle messengers wings.
Certainly, I’m being sarcastic, but I wonder if these writers really look around themselves at the age we actually live in very often . There is a very good chance you are reading this post on a device you pulled from your pocket that contains more processing power than the entire Apollo 13 mission–spacecraft and ground stations combined–that functions as a phone, network access device, and computer and was produced just 137 years after the phone was invented, 40 years after the cell phone was invented, and 21 years after the smartphone was invented.
That’s a course of development 40 times faster than it took to get from the wheel to the car.
My point here is that history is replete with examples of people, especially the so-called well informed, declaring that something is impossible because it is different or outside the mold of what we consider normal or beyond our current technological means. It’s actually quite amusing how often the march of progress has proven such Luddites wrong.
Now, I am not saying that Amazon will succeed, or that drone delivery is the thing of the future, but I am saying that the idea is now there and that someone is going to figure out how to make some version of it–maybe even a version we haven’t imagined yet–work. And when they do, we can look back at these prognostications and laugh like we do at the early 19th century writers who said people would not be able to breath if they went faster than twenty miles per hour.
Dear <fill in the blank with the name of a major technology producer CEO>,
I understand that you want to make supertanker loads of money so that you can vacation in the Mediterranean and eat your lunch off nude prostitutes, and I know that people who take your technology and use it for things other than what you were able to imagine they should is really scary, but I hate to break it to you: hackers and makers are really your friends.
You see, whenever a hacker or maker takes your product and does something with it you did not imagine they could, they essentially hand you a new product for free with the potential for even more supertanker loads of money (and hence, more nude prostitute sushi). Further, every time someone develops a new use for your product, based either on the original product or on a new development someone hacked, that’s a new supertanker.
In essence, all of these hackers and makers represent an entire free product development division that won’t demand any more benefits than to have the right to open something they’ve paid for, to see how it works, and to use it they way they want.
In fact, if you encourage such initiative by making your products hackable and makeable, you might find out that people might start to like your company even more and not get so upset with your supertankers full of money and nude prostitute sushi. What’s more, if you take some of that money–just a tiny little bit–and use it to fund contests to see what people might be able to do with your products, you might even accelerate the process.
Or, you could just do things the way you always have, jealously guarding your products against such intrusions while hackers and makers do what they’re going to do anyway. That is, those hackers and makers will do it until they get bored or something better comes along, maybe some other company’s product that isn’t afraid to put it out there and see what happens. Then, that company will get the supertankers full of money you wish you had while you’re stuck sharing your cheeseburger with your dog in Greenland.
After a long hiatus–cut me some slack, I got an associates degree, took over a sustainable farm, and started an IT consulting business since I last posted on my projects–, I have finally restarted my robot building enterprise with several promising-sounding projects that will eventually get their own pages on this website including (but not limited to):
- A Vex-based Farmbot
- A cardboard cat, to be followed by:
- A catbot
- A firetruck toy for use with special needs kids
- A sun tracker/solar panel optimizer
As these projects develop, I will post updates and, eventually, build notes and parts lists on this site.