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We spend a lot of time talking about “computers in the home” as part of our Digital Life theme. Over the past year, I’ve heard the phrase “Home Networking” with increasing frequency. It made the rounds a while back (anyone remember when it was called a HAN – home area network) but seemed to fade into the background for a while. I’m not sure what caused it to show up at our party again (although I’m suspicious that it is Windows 7), but it’s back.
My mother doesn’t know what “home networking” is, nor does she care. And she is an example of a typical user. Virtually any home that has a broadband Internet connection now has a HAN because of the router involved in the broadband connection. These routers are generally wireless at this point so people now have wireless networks in their house, whether they realize it or not.
When I time travel and find myself in 2015, I notice that every electronic device in my home is “network enabled” and connected to the Internet. For example, I just bought a new Withings Connected Body Scale which connects to my “home network” via Wifi (and subsequently to the Internet.) Yeah, I get all the old cliches about my refrigerator being connected to the Internet, but as the Jetson’s have proved over and over again, the future that was envisioned in the past often eventually arrives.
Calling this stuff “home networking” is kind of like calling the electrical closet in a house a “home power plant.” While I realize that make the technology disappear into the background is part of the mission, I’ve always felt that “getting the words right” as things go mainstream also matters. All of us nerds (and our marketing friends) playing around with “home networking” probably have another shot to get the language right. I’m going to spend more time talking to my mom, Amy, and other non-techies about what they call it other than “that fucking computer shit.”
The tschotske at the Microsoft Venture Capital Summit was a spiffy blue Zune. I managed to figure out how to open the box – it’s pretty cute. I followed the "Start" directions which sends me to www.zune.net/setup to install the Zune software. I created an account and downloaded the 28mb file. I ran it to install it.
I’m running the most recent version of Vista on a Lenovo X300 and downloaded through IE 7. Gack.
As I live my Digital Life theme, I realize that sometimes I need to take a step back to take a step forward. This happened today when I was in the shower.
When I switched to an iPhone, I lost the ability to synchronize Outlook/Exchange Tasks. I’m a heavy Task user and a zero inbox person, so I spent a few weeks trying to find a good workaround. I didn’t find it yet. So – I started typing my tasks into a page in the Notes application on the iPhone and emailing the page to me at the end of each day. I then cut and pasted the individual entries into my task list. Stupid, but it was the best option up to that point that still integrated with my Outlook workflow (yes – I tried Evernote and a bunch of other similar things.)
For the past two weeks, I’ve been carrying around a little moleskin notebook that my friends at WordPress game me and scribbling down notes in the notebook. I’ve had fun with this approach and realized that having the freedom to just scribble down my thoughts as "items" liberated me some from the more task oriented view I have taken for the past N years.
In the shower this morning, I realized that this was exactly what I was doing in Notes on my iPhone with a few minor tweaks to the formatting. I was resisting Notes because I really thought I wanted Tasks and this was blocking my ability to see that the Notes approach actually worked better. Of course – if I could automagically have selected Notes go into my Task list, that would be even better, but I’ll live without it.
By working on paper for a few weeks, I made a minor behavior modification to my own workflow that I think will be more effective for me. Interesting.
Fred Wilson has a great post up today titled Can We Live In Public? If you go back in time to May 4, 2004 when I started blogging, you’ll see that Fred was one of the key inspirations with his post Transparency to my question of To Blog or Not to Blog. At the time, my interest came from a very simple place.
I’m a professional emailer / phonecaller / meeting taker (aka a venture capitalist). Much of my time is spend writing, reading, thinking, talking, and learning. As a result, I’ve been fascinated (and deeply involved) with the evolution of email and web-based communication and technologies.
I just wanted to learn how this stuff worked. Blogging, RSS, user generated content. All the corresponding web-based tools and technologies that were emerging in 2004. To me, learning how this stuff worked wasn’t just reading about it and observing, but actually participating. UGC was a big part of it – I believed that I wouldn’t really understand it unless I was a content creator. So, while my blogging was motivated by transparency, my meta-goal was ultimately a selfish one – to learn.
I massively underestimated the value of this to me. When I reflect on the last four years of my blogging, it’s been one of the most interesting, enlightening, stimulating, and – ultimately – rewarding things that I’ve done professionally. It’s resulted in new investments, new friends, lots of stimuli I doubt I ever would have encountered, plenty of healthy conflict that has caused me to think through things I otherwise wouldn’t have thought much about, and an outlet for my desire to write that is clearly aligned with what I do every day for work.
The notion of living in public is an unintended side effect of this. It’s part of the package if you really want to engage with this stuff. I’ve had my share of bad moments; like Fred the worst is when I piss off my wife Amy with something I write. It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then I get an email saying approximating "please delete that tweet".
Over the past year or so, the ideas swirling around my head have coalesced into a construct that at Foundry Group we are calling Digital Life. As I continue to live in public, the friction and overhead associated with it increases geometrically since I am both a generator and consumer of content. I’m continuing to work on understanding (and investing in) the tools, technologies, and services on both sides of this equation, but I also want to knit it all together at a higher level.
I’ve got a long way to go. I learn a little every day. By doing. Thank you for helping.