I read a blog post by Kev Quirk this morning.
It was a refreshing read.
The world has come a long way as far as technology is concerned. But I think somewhere along the lines, the definition of innovation changed.
I upgraded my desktop computer a couple of months ago.
Before the upgrade, I used an Intel CPU from 2014 with as much RAM as the platform could handle. It was working fine. But I needed a few extra CPU cores and more RAM. So, I got a top-of-the-line AMD Ryzen CPU.
After the upgrade, my desktop computer matches all my current requirements and doubles as a room heater.
The upgrade helped. I am amazed by the performance of the CPU and the new features the platform offers. But it did not blow my mind.
What blows my mind instead are innovations that change how we think about technology. What blows my mind are innovations that change the way we use technology.
I want to list a few that I experienced in this blog post.
The Nokia 5700 XpressMusic was a phone you could twist to switch to different functionalities.
The bottom part of the phone had the dial pad on the front and music controls on the back. There was a camera on one side and speaker grills on the other. You could twist it to make the camera face towards you or away from you. And you could twist it twice to bring the media controls to the front.
I know this phone is not the best one that Nokia made back then.
But it was the first phone I ever owned. And it reminds me of the time when phones were becoming more than just what you used to call other people.
And this phone blew my mind.
The phone also reminds me of the Symbian OS.
Nokia 5700 used the Symbian S60 (3rd Edition) platform, which I think was way ahead of its time. It had features that were useful, not bells and whistles. And it knew how to get out of the user’s way.
Too bad it had to die to make room for Android and iOS.
Since then, I have used several other mobile phones, including flagship ones. But I do not think any of those have blown my mind like the Nokia 5700 XpressMusic did.
For anyone who is reaching for your pitchfork, hear me out.
I do not remember if Google Docs added real-time collaborative writing first, but seeing it in Google Wave blew my mind.
Although it is not the product that caught my attention, it was the technology: operational transformation.
So much so that for GopherGala 2016 (a Go programming language hackathon), I built Papyrus. It is a real-time collaborative Markdown editor.
I enjoyed learning about operational transformation, reading whitepapers on the topic and all.
Too bad Google Wave had to die to make room for, I don’t know what. It was a Google product. It was as mortal as any other Google product, I suppose.
The Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+ was the first single-board computer I used.
The small credit-card-sized computer booted right into Linux. And it blew my mind.
The first time I used a computer was an IBM XT clone. And it was the size of a boulder and, I think, weighed as much.
But I could do almost anything on this credit-card-sized computer that I could do on a real computer, as far as the limited amount of RAM and architecture compatibility allowed back then.
To this day, I have several Raspberry Pi boards running at my home and in my workspace serving as private cloud, Pi-Hole host, WireGuard server, remote power switch for my desktop, retro gaming setup and more.
And I am glad that Raspberry Pi is a thing.
It saddens me to realize that true innovation has slowed down in recent years. Hype and marketing have taken over.
But I am glad I was able to witness a lot of it.
What about you? When was the last time tech blew your mind?
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