Inspire Me with Disruptive Technology I Should Follow

Over the past month or so, I’ve been working up a list of projects for the next year to pitch as innovation prototypes that Noel and I would design and build, the ultimate goal being release into core product.

You know, that illusive goal that this team has never really been able to achieve, i.e. getting our stuff out into your hands.

Over the past five-plus years, we’ve built some cool stuff, maybe nudged the ship and influenced a few people, but if you’re keeping score at home, very few of our “innovations” have ever made it into public hands. Oracle Mix is really the only one.

This makes me have a sad.

Anyway, during a trip to the mothership recently, I had coffee with my dear old friend and former ‘Labber, Anthony (@anthonyslai), who jumped to Taleo not long ago and has recently been reacquired (cough, acquihired), and the subject of what we were each working on came up, natch.

Anthony politely listened to my list of projects and then said something like, but those are all just integrations. Indeed. My list of ten projects included no new development really, nothing snazzy and new, like Connect once was or some of our other secret projects were.

Cue the sad again.

This is actually a larger problem that has bothered me lately. Looking around at hot new startups, all I see is incremental stuff, very little new and disruptive innovation. Gamified mobile social analytics in the cloud.

Not to say those are bad, but we’ve entered a period of malaise for innovation, as the good ideas coalesce, gain adoption and are refined. I remember this from the late nineties, early aughties (h/t Mythbusters) as the intertubes matured into models like B2C and B2B. Boring, yes. Necessary, also yes.

Let’s hope this go-round doesn’t require burning everything to the ground first to let the new ideas sprout.

So, lately, it’s been tough to get really excited about this or that new startup or tool because we’ve seen them already.

What’s an early adopter to do?

For inspiration, I looked back at my post about topics that interest me for 2012, and that list reminded me of the stuff I like, internet of things and the evolution of interfaces.

I guess I’ll need to learn some new skills to dabble in those areas.

Anyway, do you feel the same way about technology? What do you care about now that recently innovative stuff has begun to mature, assuming you cared at all?

Let me know in the comments. I need to expand my list.




  1. The ancient Hebrews figured out gamification in biblical times. A man could have as many wives as he could keep satisfied. Satisfied was precisely defined based on occupation. Intellectual pursuits were of course the highest occupation, so religious leaders could have the most wives. Wives were protected through contractual obligations, and more pragmatically, while being a gay man was an abomination, lesbos were merely scandalous.

    Now the game I would like to see is how to turn off ads for single women in facebook.

    That sad meme is disturbing.

    The next big revolution ought to be in building things to last. We need to get this daily build for requirements made of jello pendulum back to writing cuneiform tablets for the ages. We need to fix the underlying technology to adapt properly to the data load it is carrying. We need reliable identities. We need to control our own data, including how fast it comes in and where it goes out. We need to communize data access. Front-end bling will always be transitory and ultimately boring, the back end is where big concepts will be interesting over time. It’s the data.

    There’s plenty to do. Unfortunately, it will take several iterations of burning improperly managed old dead tinder to get there.

  2. There’s always lots to do, but I’m not feeling terribly inspired about any of that. I do think your point about identity and data ownership is an area that needs innovation.

    Security is a joke, and someone needs to figure out how to replace the username/password as the default identification mechanism. OpenID tried and failed, but they were on the right track.

    Unfortunately, we’ve moved too far up the stack, and now, all the infrastructure innovations aren’t exciting enough.

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