We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He’d never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android.
the last pay phone.
all across downtown, all day and night, i saw people waiting around in line to use the pay phones on various street corners. i think somehow i’d trained my mind to ignore them, because before yesterday, i wouldn’t have been able to tell you where the last pay phone i saw was, let alone whether one worked. i seem to remember always keeping around a quarter in a bag or a jacket somewhere in case of an emergency where i found myself stranded and i had to call home. (it still takes 25¢ to make a call, right?*)
standing there on the corner last night, looking at this girl on the phone, blinded by the high beams of the truck behind us, i couldn’t help but smile. here are two technologies supposedly on their way out (landlines and fossil fuel), but when all the “new” stuff can’t support us, we’re back to square one. what will happen in a future where both are truly extinct, instead of just endangered?
* and, omg, remember the pay phones in ‘the matrix’?!
As someone who used a pay phone many times over the past few days (its $2.00/minute for calls outside of NYC, by the way), I can relate, and felt the same sense of strangeness. When the lady at the Bowery Hotel kindly told me to shove off and find a pay phone, I stared back with a blank look of confusion. Now, I can actually SEE the booths as I walk through the streets, but as quickly as I became aware of their existence, now that my iPhone has batteries and service again they’ll blend back into the landscape of New York, useful no more. Strange how that works.
When designing anything, you pick one or two primary attributes and you compromise on everything else.
Tech Startup Pizza Night
I don’t go to enough meetups, and the startup I run isn’t a tech company, but still, love these nights and always meet super interesting people. My buddies Emil and Gabriel are setting it up, plenty of pizza and conversation. They did this event last month and it sounded like a huge success, so hopefully we get a repeat on that one.
They’re trying out a “theme” for these nights now (this one is “Meet Your Designer”), so we’ll see how it goes. As a founder with very little design talent on our side, it could be extremely valuable for me if some designers showed up…but it might be better to keep things general in the future.
My favorite line is the first thing Jack says in response to Om’s question regarding the impact of the Internet nearly eliminating the barriers of distance and time.
“The arc I’m most fascinated by is the arc where technology reminds us of our own humanness. It encourages us to use what we already have.”
Watch the whole discussion, Jack covers a number of very interesting trends.
It does fit into my view. Our first shareholder letter, in 1997, was entitled, “It’s all about the long term.” If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow—and we’re very stubborn. We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details.
Nothing signals genius like this type of thinking. And if you haven’t read that first letter to shareholders from ‘97 that he referenced, you really should.
The wired underground project will begin on Tuesday at four stations in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, where subscribers to the AT&T and T-Mobile networks will be able to talk away on station platforms, transportation officials said.
The pilot program will introduce cellphone reception to the C-E platforms at 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue, and three other stations along West 14th Street: the A, C, E and L platforms at Eighth Avenue; the F, M and L platforms at Avenue of the Americas; and the Seventh Avenue station that serves the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 lines. [NY Times]
Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.