Monthly Archives: April 2011

Deferred Information Consumption

You are sifting through the work emails for the day and somewhere in between is an e-mail about the latest TED talks.

You are tweeting about your company latest feature and see a WIRED article in your stream that you can’t wait to read.

But work calls, so they have to wait.

You either leave the TED email unread, letting it consume prime visual real estate in your inbox. Or you download the video on your Desktop where it will lie for the next several days. You open the article in a browser tab and let it be. Or you bookmark it and then forget all about it.

Our computers have become now the primary device for discovering AND consuming information – be it work or leisure. But how do I reduce this information overload and at least consume it when I want and where I want? One answer: new devices and services that can deliver to those devices. Which is why I love my Kindle and my iPod Touch.

These days when I find an interesting article, I Instapaper it. My Instapaper is set to automatically send new articles to my Kindle at the end of the day, and then I can happily read them in the most important room in my house. TED has this awesome functionality where you can ‘Download a video to iTunes’. Whenever I connect my iPod Touch, it syncs them and then I can watch one of these videos right before I sleep (I wish iTunes had Wi-Fi sync).

So what’s the point? I am making a case for devices that do one thing and one thing well, like a Walkman or a TV. But obviously, that’s not going to be the case – because you know, ‘there’s an app for that’. So what we then need is devices which when doing one thing do it really well. This is a case for full screen immersive experiences. A case against the taskbar that shows which applications are open. A case even against tabbed browsing.

You say that already exists. An iPad. You’re right. It’s just that I realised how much of a disruptive innovation that is. Johnny Ive (a man who vocal chords need to be preserved as much as his right brain) may be overstating the case when he says ‘I don’t have to change myself to fit the product. It fits me.’, but it definitely fits the activity you are trying to do.

But more than letting out some iPad love, this is a case for the missing piece in this puzzle besides discovery and consumption which is delivery.

Something like Instapaper. When combined with Amazon’s WhisperNet it takes no more work that clicking on ‘Read Later’ to get an article to my Kindle.

But what about music? Why can’t a song I discovered on Shazam be delivered to my Sansa Clip?

YouTube videos? Why can’t I just ‘Send to TV’.

So the question is: How might we get to a point where a discovered piece of information or media it can be effortlessly delivered to my ideal consumption device?

Phones. They’re all the same.

You have a phone. You love it, but every now and then it behaves badly. You get pissed. You throw it away in anger.

A few minutes later you feel like making a call. You tread carefully towards the phone. It’s lying dead, or maybe just switched off. You don’t know yet. You pick it up and see it has chipped a little on an edge but no other external damage. You are a bit relieved. You press the power button in anticipation. After what feels like an unending logo animation, the phone is on. You make that call. Maybe the phone is not that bad after all. You give it a little peck and pocket it. Back to things as usual.

But things aren’t usual. Everytime you threw that phone it broke a little bit. On the inside.

One day it stops working. Your doubts are confirmed – this phone was trash. It had to stop working eventually.

They are just never good enough. You head out to go and get a new one.

You toss the dead old phone in the bin on the way out. There’s a rattling sound when it hit the top of the dump already in the bin. But there was another rattling sound. Much quieter. The sound of the broken pieces inside.