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Archive: November 26, 2014

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(New Yorker, 11/24/14)

Wednesday,  11/26/14  10:04 PM


"time warp"

(cover of the New Yorker's annual "tech" issue)



wearable computing

Wednesday,  11/26/14  10:22 PM

The New Yorker's annual tech issue just came out - see my previous post for the awesome cover - and as usual it contained a lot of interesting stuff.  I can't do it all justice, but I can summarize one clear trend: there are more and more articles about "wearable computing".

Of course we are all eagerly anticipating the Apple Watch, which might be the definitive device that kicks off a new category.  The Google Glass is/was cool but [generally agreed] not useful.  Or perhaps too dorky looking to be given a chance to be useful.  I personally think there is no doubt at all that some kind of Glass-like device is going to take off; the utility of having a camera at eye level combined with a heads' up display is too evident.  But then again, I founded a visual search company, so perhaps I'm biased :)

Wrist devices, glass devices, various types and styles of fitness trackers; these are all examples of wearable computing.  But they are only the start.  Each of them generally functions by communicating with your phone, leveraging its superior compute power, battery life, and cellular connectivity.  In the near future though we're going to see these devices integrated into clothes to a degree only hinted at now.  Why not put a phone in a shoe?  (Paging Maxwell Smart!)  Plenty of room for batteries.  Or in a belt.  Some belts weight more than some laptops.  Your shirt can surely measure your heartbeat and other body functions better than any strapped on device.  And so on.

And only one step after that will be implantible computers, devices which become a part of your body, both to measure it and to communicate with it.  In my lifetime I confidently expect to see all of us carrying around various implanted computers.  It will change our lives.  (And can you imagine the sports controversies!)  Augmented reality, indeed!

but of course



Wednesday,  11/26/14  11:34 PM

the 10X crowd
Are these guys 10X better?

Among the interesting articles in the New Yorker's recent annual tech issue was The Programmer's Price, about a company called 10X that acts as a talent agency for superstar developers.

The working theory (with which I entirely agree) is that software engineers are artists, and talented ones are worth 10X more than mediocre ones.  Companies who recognize this are desperate to find great developers, and willing to pay for them.

The 10X agency represents talented engineers, finding them work, negotiating their rates and terms of service, and in general performing the crummy tasks which have to be done by someone to support freelance careers.  These engineers are great at creating software, but maybe not as great at the business aspects of being independent contractors, and are only too glad to pay 15% for someone else to do the dirty work.  Especially if it leads to more and better work :)

I'm pretty fascinated by this concept; it will be most interesting to follow their success.  It's possible that this is the start of a new model, and that someday the best engineers will routinely work freelance and be represented by agents, in much the same way that actors and musicians evolved from working for producers to working independently.  (Athletes are entertainers who haven't quite made the jump; they work for their teams, but are represented by agents in negotiating their contracts.)  It's also possible that paying 10X for engineers which are 10X better just isn't sustainable.  So many companies few engineers as interchangeable resources, and treat them accordingly.

Stay tuned!


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