Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On the slow diffusion of technology

I've often wondered why it takes so long for new technologies to mix with others. We had the telephone for a very long time before we got answering machines, for example.  Today I think I've figured out a bit of it.

It's my theory that it's the young people who come up with innovations, but they generally don't get them built because they lack the technical and business chops to do so. They also don't know as well how to discriminate between really good ideas and the random thoughts that occur to us all.  So they sit on some of their ideas for a long time, tweaking them and getting to the essential core over time. As they grow in experience they also become more adept at gathering resources and navigating the world. It is at this point when they can take those ideas they have nurtured, and reify them.

The example that inspired this comes from Thom Robertson, who just released Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator for Windows. In his frequently asked questions...
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Artemis?
A: Long ago, when my buddies and I all had Commodore64s (like, 25 years ago), I had an idea. I could link our computers together and play a game like the Star Trek bridge. One machine would run the simulation and the "main screen". Each other machine would be a bridge station, like Helm, Science, or Weapons. That idea has lain dormant in my brain for a very long time, but recently my muse told me "Make it. Now." So I finally did.
This leads me to suspect a lot of middle aged hackers are going to be coming up with some really cool things over the next few years that they've been thinking about for a long time.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Augsburg Svenska Skola

Augsburg Svenska Skola
Originally uploaded by --Mike--
A few years ago I stumbled across this building by accident. I've been trying to find it every chance I get when I'm in the area.

Today I managed to find a park ranger who knew of it, and gave me accurate directions.

Here's the text on the marker to the left of the building.

"This structure served as the first school for children of Swedish immigrants that settled in this area in the late 1840s.
In 1885 when the county public school was built nearby, the building was turned over to the Augsburg Evangelical Lutheran church whose members and friends have preserved this early landmark.
The building and its contents are in the national historic land site registry in Washington DC and in recognition of its value a record has been placed in the library of Congress."