Where is the awesomeness?

Later today we will see the newest iPhone. We may see a new iPad Mini (although TechCrunch thinks we won’t). So why am I not more fired up? Following along with the liveblogs on Engadget or Gizmodo used to be one of my favorite ways to procrastinate at work. I used to tweet about everything they would say as it came out.

Maybe it’s because I know I won’t be getting the new phone (not up for an upgrade this round). Or maybe it’s because I know that no matter what they reveal tomorrow, it won’t be that much better than what I have right now. A slightly bigger screen? Cool, but not a game changer. LTE? faster would be nice, but not blowing my hair back. A better camera? A sharper screen? New dock connector? Please.

These are evolutions not revolutions.

A few years ago it felt like everything was getting awesomer every day. New apps were literally changing the way we live, new devices were radically blowing away their predecessor, and new websites were creating new forms of entertainment.

But now? Now everything feels very blah. Read TechCrunch and you see headline after headline about some new mobile CRM platform or yet another app to modify your photos. You see newer, sometimes better, versions of things we already have. Facebook is boring (although maybe that’s a reflection of my and my friends’ life stage).

Where is the awesomeness?

The digital toys and tech that used to get me so fired up has become a part of my everyday life and now I need more. It’s like a drug. I need another Uber. I need another Hulu. I need another first generation iPhone.

And yet, I don’t need “another” anything. I need a NEW. I need something I can’t even imagine.

Has the pace of innovation slowed? Have we mastered everything there is to master? Every so often someone comes out with a stupid prediction like that and quickly proved wrong. In the past, the technology itself was rapidly changing as we moved from analog to digital. But as digital technology evolved the revolutionary-ness of it slowed. Today’s computers aren’t that different from the first Macintosh. They’re faster, more powerful, have WAY more features. But if you brought someone from 1984 to 2012 and showed them a computer they could probably identify it. I doubt the same would hold true from the average person from 1964.

So what do we have to look forward to? What are you looking forward to most?

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The power of guilt and shame.

Last week, for my birthday, Wendy got me a Nike+ FuelBand. If you don’t know what that is, here is what the Nike+ site has to say about it:

Nike+ FuelBand tracks your activity through a sport-tested accelerometer. Then translates every move into NikeFuel. Nike+ FuelBand tracks running, walking, dancing, basketball – and dozens of everyday actions. It also syncs up with a motivational web and mobile experience. So put it on and get moving

And it looks like this:

NIke Plus FuelBand

Basically it’s a fancy pedometer. “NikeFuel points” are a proprietary system Nike created to allow you to compare your performance across activities and with other people. So if I’m a runner and you’re a rower, we can compete over who is more active. Woo hoo, right? But that’s not the important part.

What it really does is guilt and shame you into being more active. Every day you have a goal to reach, 2,000 or more NikeFuel points. You can check your progress throughout the day and see how close you are to achieving your goal. And that’s where the guilt/shame comes in.

Today was a low energy day for me. I sat in a 4 hour workshop, then drove to the airport, then sat at the airport, and then on a plane. I didn’t even hit my ridiculously low goal of 2000 NikeFuel points per day (I’ve only had it a week, I started with the lowest goal to get a baseline before upping it). Ordinarily after a day like this I’d hit the couch. And then I’d go to sleep.

But with the FuelBand, my glowing, flashing reminder that I was a lazy sack of crap today, I forced myself to go to the gym this evening and make sure I met my goal (I wasn’t that far off, from walking around today, etc). I even took the stairs to and from the gym, and the laundry room (several times), which I don’t normally do. This wasn’t even public shaming, it was just my own sense of guilt. My own sense that I would be upset with myself if I didn’t hit a totally arbitrary goal.

That’s some powerful shit.

People have been talking about feedback loops for a long time. It’s nothing new. But it sure is powerful. Simply by measuring something you can encourage people to change it. It’s how Weight Watchers works.

The act of measuring is much more powerful than the actual numbers. For instance, one of the first days I had the FuelBand I spent 5 hours in a car and earned 1200+ points. That was almost half my daily goal. There’s no way that riding in a car was half the activity I needed for the day. Additionally, I first started wearing the FuelBand on my right (dominant) hand. But after racking up some impressive amounts of points, I decided that eating, drinking, talking with my hands, and other movements really shouldn’t be counting towards my activity goals. So I switched it to my left hand and I’ve definitely been earning fewer points.

But again, it’s not about the number of points you get it. It’s about setting the appropriate goal and then forcing yourself to beat it.

Will I keep it up? I hope so. We’ll see how easy it is come winter. And how guilty I feel.

Avoiding dangerous neighborhoods

Switching agencies has forced me to change my business travel habits a little bit. Instead of frequent trips to NYC where I am chauffeured around in the finest taxis the city has to offer, I’ve been driving to more “local” clients. Local being Hartford, CT or Framingham, MA. And because these are not bustling metropolises (metropoli?) I’ve found myself spending a lot of time in Zipcars.

And because I have a terrible sense of direction, especially in places I have never been before, I have been relying on my GPS app on my phone. A Lot.

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CES: Day 1

Wow. All I can say is that CES is one of the coolest, most over-stimulating experiences I’ve ever had. Everywhere you look there are flashing screens, blinking lights, 3D displays, glossy, shiny, connected objects. I only made it through about 1.5 of the conference floors yesterday, so I have plenty more to explore today. I spent the first part of the day exploring the North Hall, which was mostly tech accessories, like iPhone cases, iPad screens, docks, speakers, etc. But they also had tons of gadgets like Zeo Sleep Manager and FitBit.

When I get back to Boston I’ll put together a real presentation about my experience here, but for now, I wanted to share a few pics. There will also be a movie, mostly starring me, and directed by the amazingly talented Matt Lindley.

Here’s what I loved yesterday (in no particular order):

smoking

While I don't believe that e-cigarettes are a good or safe alternative to smoking, the design of this device was pretty cool.

The great Zoltar

I wished to be big. I'll let you know if I turn into Tom Hanks tomorrow AM.

Sphero

Sphero is a remote control ball. I'm not kidding. It's going to be bigger than Google.

Solowheel

Solowheel is like a uni-Segway. It's awesome.

Samsung display

The centerpiece of the Samsung area was gorgeous. This picture doesn't do it justice.

Recon Instrument Goggles

Recon Instrument MOD Live Goggles with heads-up display and bluetooth. The coolest thing I saw at CES today.

Ferrari

Not sure which model this is. And pretty sure I don't care. It was GORGEOUS.

Escort Radar/Laser Detector's cloud service offering

The power of community at work. The first car to get hit with the laser reports to the cloud, cars behind get an update that a laser is active ahead. Genius. Assuming enough people have them.

Ian Cohen of Weber Shandwick

Got to see Ian do his thing.

United Healthcare Pedometer day 1

United Healthcare gave out pedometers. I didn't get mine until around 11am, but after that I walked about two miles today. Not too shabby.

More to come tomorrow…

Update: Here are my favorites from CES Day 2 and Day 3 (and if you prefer video format, click here)

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Reflecting on 1000 Friends

I recently hit a social media milestone – 1000 facebook friends (I think my current count is up to 1002). Once when someone asked me where I got my Facebook t-shirt, I told them that Zuck sends it to you when hit 1000. But now that I’m there, it seems much less rewarding.

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