Individualistic cultures, which emphasise achievement over affiliation, help cultivate this time-is-money mindset. This creates an urgency to make every moment count, notes Harry Triandis, a social psychologist at the University of Illinois. Larger, wealthy cities, with their higher wage rates and soaring costs of living, raise the value of people’s time further still. New Yorkers are thriftier with their minutes—and more harried—than residents of Nairobi. London’s pedestrians are swifter than those in Lima. The tempo of life in rich countries is faster than that of poor countries. A fast pace leaves most people feeling rushed.
The relationship between time, money and anxiety is something Gary S. Becker noticed in America’s post-war boom years. Though economic progress and higher wages had raised everyone’s standard of living, the hours of “free” time Americans had been promised had come to nought. “If anything, time is used more carefully today than a century ago,” he noted in 1965. He found that when people are paid more to work, they tend to work longer hours, because working becomes a more profitable use of time. So the rising value of work time puts pressure on all time. Leisure time starts to seem more stressful, as people feel compelled to use it wisely or not at all.
Interesting article on State of Consumer Technology at the End of 2014, you should give it a read.
The author lays out and argument for 3 epochs: The PC, The Internet, and Mobile and he muses on what the next epoch will be.
He argues that the PC=omnipotence, the Internet= omniscience, and Mobile=omnipresence.
He then goes on to wonder what's next and whether: Wearables, VR or Bitcoin are those next things.
Before moving on to the 4th epoch though, I'd argue his position that Mobile=omnipresence. I don't think it does. Mobile as it is today is just a wider realization of the PC dream. Mobile made the PC/Internet combination cheap and ubiquitous, but I don't think it is in itself a 3rd epoch, at least not in it's present form.
Mobile is also somewhat of a misnomer I think, because so much of mobile use isn't. I don't see people using phones on the go for much, I see people standing in place, while out, using phones. What we call mobile phones/devices today are just very portable desktop computers.
A truly mobile device would be more contextual. Google Now has the faintest beginnings of this. If a device is truly mobile, it should know where it is and be relevant to it's place and time. Mobile devices today are largely a static "start menu" of app icons arranged on pages.
A mobile ecosystem should know I'm in the grocery store and remind me of things I need that are missing from my kitchen. It should know that my car is running low on fuel and tell me the cheapest price on gas near me automatically. A truly mobile experience should know that I just bumped into a friend of mine and it should summarize their last few emails, Facebook posts and Instagram pictures. With voice, I should be able to ask when and where a movie is playing, or whether a movie I'm interested in is on Netflix or if not, how much is it to rent or purchase? These questions and answers should flow naturally from one to the next.
A truly mobile communications platform would be able to sort my messages into different buckets based on where I am and how much time I have to catch up on the latest. News, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, these services wouldn't be silos. Their data would flow together into a single presentation with each weighted differently based on where and what I'm doing.
A truly mobile ecosystem will know that I and my wife are both home and set a temperature for the house that may be different than if any one of us is home alone. Even better, when I go over to a friend's house their devices should know that I like the temperature to be 70 degrees and if the home owner has given the house agency to respond to it's guest's wishes, the house might raise the temperature from their usual 66 degrees, at least by a degree or two. My music preferences would be automatically be taken into account wherever I go and systems that care about that sort of things would weigh the preferences of all those present.
So I'd argue that we haven't entered the mobile ecosystem hardly at all yet. The technology for all of the above is possible, but the will, standards, and connections between services are not. We have a long way to go in the 3rd epoch of mobile yet.
But back to the author's argument, What is the Fourth Epoch. If we do take care of Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence, I'd argue that Connection would be next. Connecting people in a much more robust way to other people when they want to work or play. The Ubers of the world are a spark of that sort of idea, but the business model is wrong. The current Connection or Sharing economy is predicated on creating a layer of businesses as middlemen between people in specific silo'd tasks. If we get PC/Internet/Mobile right, Connection will come without Middlemen.
Things get Utopian or Dystopian from there depending.
On the contrary, both publishers seem ready to jump on the VR bandwagon if and when it really leaves the consumer station, nausea-free. "I will say this. If that's what consumers want, we'll be first in line to give it to them," Take-Two's Zelnick said. "We see no reason to innovate in terms of business models. We prefer to be a fast follower... I'm happy to have other people spend loads of dough on R&D."The console game makers are waiting for the next "console", but it doesn't work like that. American's watch 2.8 hours of TV a day. You don't have to replace all 2.8 hours to have a viable business, even if people spend 30 min a day in VR. That's a significant business, and it will significantly impact TV and console gaming once that 30 min a day is peeled away from them.
Some random thoughts.
Are you paying attention to what is happening in Ferguson and New York? Maybe you are, or maybe you aren’t? We have reached a point where you can pretty completely insulate yourself from or ensconce yourself in any news you want.
Is anything interesting happening right now in consumer tech? No, not really, it’s been a dead year for consumer tech. Some things got cheaper and a little better, but new? Not so much.
Is anything interesting going to happen in consumer tech anytime soon? Maybe.
VR video looks promising.
Voice could get interesting fast, if systems could more clearly understand the words people say.
We’ll also see if the Apple brand can truly sell anything, ie: Can they make smartwatches popular and mainstream? As much as I love my Gear and Pebble I have my doubts that even Apple can make the smartwatch format mainstream, but next year should tell.
Facebook seems rock solid in its niche now. Twitter is still more adrift. Twitter in usage, continues to slide more to a hyperconcise rss feed for interests and less the social messaging platform it started out as.
“Social” also seems to be continuing it’s trend toward “broadcasting” what you are doing after the fact instead of real time interaction.
We’ve got about 6 or 7 months before the US political campaign cycle starts up again. With fewer people watching Cable “News”, people probably won’t pay much attention at all this next cycle though.
Long term what issues do I think are going to be important in the US? Better social equality, less economic inequality, universal healthcare, free higher education, and a different way of looking at work and income. What does it mean when most employment is reduced to temporary contract or “permanent” positions of 2 to 7 years in length? Societally, we are still structured as if it was the 1950s and a person would work at the same company for life. Can we make any movement in the direction of a Universal Basic Income program? UBI seems unlikely but it would go a long way to solve many issues. What does an ever increasing expectation for a more mobile (city to city, state to state) workforce mean for traditional home ownership? And how do you change expectations that people should work more hours to expectations that people work less? And what does the ever increasing capabilities of machine intelligence and automated manufacturing, machines doing work, do to our society that currently predicates economic solvency not on resources available but on hours people work for others?
We also need better ways to work with monolithic bureaucracies that have grown beyond the traditional checks on power provided by free markets, competition and choice. How do you make too-big-to-fail corporations, organizations, governments and industries responsive to the public good? How do you slow the ever increasing organizational efficiency at which the gains of the many are transferred to an ever consolidating few?
Even longer term, how does a species designed evolutionarily to live in a world of scarcity transition to living peacefully in a world of abundance?
A couple weeks ago I made pizza on a waffle iron. You take a pillsbury biscuit, fill it with sauce, mozzarella and pepperoni, then place it on the waffle iron for about 3 minutes. Tasty.