Category Archives: innovation

Tech Enlightened

$ Lightbulb

Progress! By definition, smart technology implies intelligence and enlightenment.  Used responsibly, it improves life on a global scale and it begs the question, what happens when a lightbulb is unscrewed?

Once upon a time, people worried that electricity would leak from an empty socket.   And we can understand how they might’ve reached that conclusion, it seems reasonable.

Most great technology that improves life also has the potential to be harmful. There’s a dark side that if left unmonitored could present a real danger. From x-rays to Big Data, we’ve become increasingly powerful and vulnerable all at once.

Technology has become incredibly small, invisible to most microscopes and yet, quantifiably humongous. Usurping our lives but also improving it, making everything we do in real-time tangible and with results that can be analyzed, understood and used for good.

And all the while, our footprints can be tracked, stacked and gathered.  How we do what we do, when we do it, where we’re doing it, analyzed and visualized.  The right questions asked, the algorithm applied and the data collected.

Smart cities that measure pot holes and compute their own capacity-duress until repair, can schedule that pavement crew and reroute traffic, anticipate patterns and give curbside bus arrival updates, all in real-time.   Smart cars can intuitively not start when their drivers are inebriated, and likewise won’t start when they’re not road worthy, offering alternate modes of transportation, in some Uber- Lyft social good package, for free!

Smart  smart technology won’t lie, won’t hide, but what if it could be programmed to monitor the good it does?   Like fear is good.

Being cautious doesn’t mean we won’t proceed, just that we’re mindful in its use, the way we might lean over a window sill; seeing so much and yet careful not to fall out.  we can have the great technology and maintain a survival technique, the flight and fight adrenaline that propels us into action, not darkness.

In a digital world that’s spinning incredibly fast, having a sense of fear might preserve a culture.   Might remind us that we’re a learned society, one that has long been enlightened and free of walls.

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Filed under Big Data, innovation, tech, technology

Wintry Tech Warrior

# Snow plow

Storm’s coming.    Which makes me think, it’s rather disheartening that in all of our meandering and staring out at the snow storms, why hasn’t anyone realized the vast potential in a snow crop?  Not to play in, but as water, tomorrow’s cash cow?   Surely, with all of our tech wizardry, there’s a snow innovation that encompasses sustainable, potable water?

I’m only asking, because winter in New England means paying attention to weather reports like other people watch the stock market.

It means being prepared at a moment’s notice to heed a weather alert, and most importantly to respect Mother Nature.  Because with all the discussions of global warming and green house effects, winter in New England still carries one helluva wallop!

If it doesn’t happen this week, then it happens the next, or the next.  The threat lingers into early Spring, and even then, there’s always the memory of such a snowstorm.  The kind of snowstorm that lasts for days and days, that cripples a city, closes her highways and shuts down its airports.  Travel isn’t simply dangerous, it’s damn near impossible.  From zero visibility and impassable roads, high winds and treacherous conditions, only a few special people venture outdoors to make a difference, we call them “Snow Warriors”.

Snow Warriors are folks who brave the elements of a winter storm, who work late into the night, overnight and into the wee hours of the morning, running on little sleep and the fumes of a hot coffee thermos; it’s their sheer determination of will that moves the proverbial mountain, also known as white gold, snow.

The Snow Warriors aren’t like the general populace, that is they don’t fear the snow, they love it!   But not the love of a child at play making snow angels and snowmen.  Their love is of having been put to the task, the purpose and desire to do their job and to do it well.  To make the roads safe for the rest of us, we passengers who travel and depend on the transportation of goods.  Hopefully it’s all over quickly, but snowflakes that fall listlessly sometimes seem endless.

To the person seated behind the steering wheel, it’s war.  Their snowplow mounted truck, excavator or a loader is the weapon that pushes and shoves, breaks down and must be repaired in unfathomable conditions of cold wet steel and bolts that must be sheered off.  All while the snow continues to pile in.

From the warmth of our homes we watch, sip hot cups of tea and complain.  As the snow continues to falls and we wonder how we’ll ever get to work and kids smile, hopeful for a Snow Day.  The snow warriors keep on pushing and shoving and piling the snow, be it light and fluffy or wet and heavy, pushing.  It never melts quick enough, and decisions of how to treat the road beneath their wheels, full salt on the asphalt surface or a mix of yesterday’s sand.  It depends on what Mother Nature plans to release next, those freezing temperatures that often follow snow.

The Snow Warrior mostly goes unnoticed, yet their job is crucial to keeping the highways opened, the streets clear and the roadways safe for emergency vehicles, because heart attacks do happen and life sustaining ambulances and paths are needed to our doors.

It’s an arduous task, this pushing of snow into huge mounds.  Surviving on catnaps, their eyes red from the white glisten of falling snow.

It goes on for hours; hours and hours of pushing and moving the swirling and drifting snow.   And the Snow Warrior’s concentration, just like his/her will stays focused to combat the white barrage of snow, and to not become mesmerized by the loveliness of crystal snowflakes that enthrall children and skiers alike.  But the endless clearing of parking lots, walkways, sidewalks and miles and miles of roadways is the Snow Warriors domain and the snow, an unwelcome intruder. He’s someone’s father, husband, uncle, brother and she’s a sister, a mother, a wife and someone waits at home, hoping for their safe return.

They’re risking their own safety to protect ours. And yet, they mostly go unknown and without thanks.  This storm, like all of the previous storms finds the Snow Warrior ready and plow-mounted forever forward, making their way so we can make our way, after the storm passes.  So, I’m giving thanks to the many men and women who fight snow and thinking…

Why hasn’t anyone realized the vast potential in Winter’s snow crop, as tomorrow’s cash cow?   With all of our tech wizardry, where’s our snow innovation when it comes to potable water?



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Filed under innovation, Snow

Ideas: Selling More Than Technology

# vacuum hoover tech

What if the vacuum cleaner salesmen did more than just suction up pet hairs?

What if there was a subliminal conversation?  Words of encouragement and a smile that hinted, “your time is more valuable, than you think”.

If a sales pitch is the purest form of Persuasive Speech, then it also has to be flattering.  As she watched him unload and pack up his machine, her mind would have wandered.   Demonstrations have that before-after effect.

Think, Prometheus returning with fire…

It’s likely that the first reaction to a flame was to reach out and touch it, but as any moth has discovered, a touch can be fatal.   So, the second more thought out reaction  to fire would’ve been to apply a “Best Use Practice” and not get burnt.

The vacuum cleaner was thought to be, just another fad; more for those with health issues, like breathing problems than the general population.  But then the vacuum cleaner did the one thing that all great technology does, it stayed.

Whisk!  The broom industry went into lower sales and poof, the carpet beater was gone!

Once the vacuum cleaner became affordable, the salesman became a welcome guest at every door.   He was a hero, with a simple gesture and a smile, no need of a sales pitch.   Technology had ignited a flame.

An added bonus was watching the salesman bend down to plug the vacuum cleaner in, to stand and turn it on.  Oh, what a treat that must’ve been, as he guided the vacuum cleaner across the dirty floor.   Surely, she must’ve smirked just a little, as a man did the proverbial “women’s work”.

Stuck in the carpet, were bits of dirt and shards of glass, just like her dreams.  Scattered long ago and deeply embedded in the carpet’s fiber.  So much so, that she had forgotten about them, until she saw the carpet become clean, its color returned.   She might’ve gasped a little to think of new uses of her free time, more vivid.

For days and weeks after the salesman had gone, she’d think back on the possibilities; of what she could achieve with the gift of time.  She shared her ideas with other women , at the window, shopping and back fence.  And if women can think alike, then they can raise their daughters with more education, so she’ll become a doctor, engineer and coder.  Maybe those vacuum cleaner salesmen hadn’t intended to, but they ended up selling more than a product, they sold her an idea.

Isn’t technology clever?  It completely changed the labor pool in a task driven society!

No gimmicks.  And eventually she’ll be paid equally.

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Filed under Coding, Consumers, Gender Equality, innovation, Vacuum cleaners, Women

Salivary Tech

$ Marble

In the Digital Age, how could a discussion that includes the word “Anti”  and “Beta”, not evoke a strong salivary response?

That’s what anticipation does when disruptive innovation is encouraged to flourish and failure is advanced, not as an end-game but instead as part of the game– an option.

Like a game of marbles, disruption is not only willed by the sharp-shooter’s accuracy, but also by the purity of the glass sphere.  Its dimensions, the grade of gravel underneath it and the velocity as it rolls.

Exterior elements, like the wind’s whimsy or the hush of spectators, as they hold their collective breath.  The anticipation of the impact…  when that prized marble thunders along and into the circle of marbles.  As it hits, grazes and bounces against the opponent’s marbles! It’s exciting, but also a fading sport; one that has no need for wires, sneakers or a net.  Just the breaking apart of glass balls, that kinetic energy that then settles into a pattern, that no one had predicted.  Because it hadn’t truly been considered before; but now it’s the open platform, where everyone there can take a turn and participate.

And isn’t that the whole point?

Lately, I’ve been approached by strangers who asked me what attending the Tribeca Anti-Summit Beta was like; specifically “How to break the mold to create impact?”

But like my finger swipes on a touch screen, I’m very mindful of how I respond.  How I use my words, as a writer are very special to me.  Punctuation still matters, with effective pauses and sentence structure to engage the reader; these are part of my integrity.  And so is my self-contained excitement, really a part of me wants to shout “Bravo! Well done!”

But, I refrain.  Here instead is the soft-spoken, introverted me, who views free speech as that which needs no disclaimer, because I haven’t said anything, not too much.   And that’s how it should be, in a Digital Age, where you never know who’s who.  It’s not paranoia but branding, everyone has an angle and there’s no such thing as “Free Press”.

But, if I were asked outside of this realm… I might view things differently.  I might’ve set my closely guarded bag of prized marbles down and expressed my jubilation, with my nose for a true news story.  Yup, I would.

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Filed under Girls, innovation, Uncategorized

Mixing Technologies with Metaphors

$ eggbeater right

As revolutionary as the eggbeater was, it was innovation that freed her from the kitchen!

Technology has a certain knack for curbing and flexing time, so that even if we can’t create it, regenerate or domesticate it, we can work to get around it. By getting a task done in less time or arriving at our destination faster and faster.   We’re constantly working in a timeframe, trying not to lament or anguish over the loss of it, but to enjoy life.  After all, there are no life instructions, but if there were one would read:  “Absolutely No Do Overs”.

So gadgets, like the eggbeater, invented with good intentions and far-reaching implications have always been welcomed.  Not only did it efficiently mix ingredients, but it helped to make baking easier, cutting the cooking time to bake a cake in half!

Additional improvements were made to foods, which helped in preparation, including storage and processing.  Key products like sugar, that had proved difficult to use, sold in blocks or sugar cones that had to be cut and then broken into useable pieces were now being purchased in granulated sweetness!  Flour was now being sold pre-sifted, and the ice box, long vulnerable to melting in the summertime, was being replaced with an electric refrigerator.  Fresh eggs stored indoors!

Cooking ovens became more efficient, with a knob that controlled the temperature of the heat.  Gone were the days of baking disasters– open fires and damp fire wood, that flameless smoky soot.  Now the modern woman had the convenience of coal, gas and electricity with which to run her kitchen.  This ease of cooking led to clichés and it changed pop culture, “If I’d knew you were coming I’d a baked a cake,” was not only a song, it was her carefree attitude.

Women were no longer slaves in America’s kitchens chained to temperamental cast iron stoves.  With her new freedom came time to think and she began to join clubs.  Book clubs, garden clubs, philosophical and reading clubs, these seemed to form and sprout up everywhere.  She had time to think, to discuss her thoughts with other women and to reconsider the world, and her place in it, she became politically aware.

That’s innovation!

From electricity, the eggbeater was redesigned with two separate mixing arms and an ejector button that popped them off for easy cleaning.  Women found an additional use, she could quickly release the mixers and use them to pacify a baby.  Many a toddler was plopped in the middle of a kitchen floor and allowed to lick the cake batter from the mixers.

Technology has always valued time, with a monetary value established for a “by the hour” workforce.  Among men there has long been an equal day’s pay for equal work.  Unions made certain that compensation was fair.  But for some odd reason, that hasn’t had cross over appeal, call it gender inequity.

Hmmmm, maybe we’re mixing technology with our metaphors…

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Filed under gadget, Gender, Gender Equality, innovation, technology