How to keep up with your blog

268 days. That’s 8 months and 25 days. And that’s how long it’s been since I lasted updated this blog. Since December 2010, I’ve written a whopping 7 posts.  Let’s not even mention how long it has been since I updated my other blog. And here I am — like the stereotypical Internet blogger — about to act like an expert on something I know very little about.

OK. So maybe rather than pretending that I have expertise to share, I am going to treat this more like an experiment: I am going to keep up with this blog by writing at least a few posts (2+) a month. Here’s how I think I can make it happen:

  • Keep it short. Really short. This means sharing just a few thoughts on a very specific topic.
  • Carve out no more than 20 minutes to write a post. Although I don’t think I could possibly be busier with all of the things going on in my life (startup + newborn), I can surely find 20 minutes here and there. Being busy, in itself, is never an excuse for anything.
  • Stop waiting for something earth shattering to write about. Just write. I’ve realized that my biggest problem with blogging is that I keep trying to find something “important enough” and unique to share with the world. Inevitably, those types of posts are much more complicated and painful to write… and end up not being very important or unique anyway.

Starting a company, and a family, has helped me realize that there so many things that happen in every day life that are worth discussing and thinking about. Keeping up with a blog is a great way to record those moments and learnings. If not for anyone else, at least for myself. Let’s see how I do!

This is how you change the world

Yesterday, Steve Jobs announced his resignation as CEO of Apple. With the incredible number of blog posts and articles that are being written about Jobs at the moment, I thought I would quickly reflect on one simple question: What did Steve Jobs actually do?

First, a confession: I honestly don’t know a whole lot about Steve Jobs. In fact, I was never really a big fan of Apple. I hated their computers in our school computer labs and, until just a few years ago, couldn’t understand why people would pay so much for an iMac or even an iPod. All of that has changed, of course. The iPhone is the single greatest gadget purchase I have ever made, and the MacBook Air is the most perfect laptop I have ever used. Yes, I’m a huge fan now. I still don’t know very much about Jobs, but I do know one thing: he has dramatically changed the world we live in – multiple times over.

Personal computers

The Apple II was the first commercially successful personal computer. The Apple Macintosh was the first computer to introduce the graphical user interface and the mouse to the masses. Most people – even those who work in the computer industry – probably don’t realize how much Apple did to kickstart and shape the personal computer revolution.

Computer animated films

Pixar’s Toy Story was the first full-length CGI animated film and made a major impact on the movie industry. Who doesn’t love a Pixar movie? Jobs, of course, was CEO and transformed Pixar from a hardware company into a movie studio.

Portable music players

The iPod was obviously not the first portable MP3 player, but it was clearly the most impactful. What I find most striking his how it changed the buying habits of the mass consumer market: despite all of the cheaper alternatives, the vast majority of people opted for the well-designed product with the highest-quality sound and headphones.

Digital music distribution

iTunes revolutionized the music industry with its first sustainable business model and distribution model designed for the Internet era.

The modern smartphone

Whether you love it or hate it, the iPhone single-handedly transformed the smartphone and the industry around it.

The app store

A revolution in business models and digital distribution –  yet again!

Tablet PCs

Another, and likely final, example of a pre-existing concept that only Steve Jobs was able to deliver in a way that transforms how we consume content and utilize technology.

Those are an amazing number of accomplishments for one lifetime. It may be cliche to be enamored with Steve Jobs, but it would be irresponsible to not be inspired by him.

8 reasons now is a great time to be

Recently, Varsha and I have been watching the Story of Us series about the history of America. It is really fascinating to see how the various inventions over time helped America develop into the world’s leading superpower. We highly recommend watching it – I’ve never cared about learning history but I truly love this series. To be honest, it has me thinking about what it would be like to be born in a different time period. OK, so maybe the colt revolver and the cotton gin are not my thing, but even the computer is now nearly 70 years old and has gone through a number of exciting innovations and developments.

As someone who likes to create new things, I can attest to the fact that is easy to get caught feeling like we’ve already missed out on some “gold rush” period of invention and discovery. All the good ideas and their corresponding website domains have been taken, right?

To make matter worse, there are a number of topic and trends we continuously hear about in the technology realm that quickly start to feel over-hyped. But perhaps… easy access to information has caused us to under-appreciate new advancements as they occur. I thought I’d take a few minutes to step back and consider the various trends. And the more I think about them, the more I realize that we are in the midst of a particularly significant age of innovation that will alter the world we live in. Here are eight topics and trends worth considering:

Mobile computing: Perhaps the most obvious. Ever stop and think about the impact of the cell phone? It has revolutionized the way we work, travel, and live. And it did this by simply giving us access to the phone system from our pockets. Well, we now have access to the entire Internet from our pockets through devices that have fairly significant computing power – the possibilities are endless. Oh, and let’s not forget about the war between Apple and Google (and Microsoft, sort of?) to dominate the mobile space. It’s going to be a good one.

New computing interfaces: With the advent of the iPhone and a host of other touchscreen devices, it is obvious that more and more devices are going to incorporate touch computing. Equally significant are gaming systems like the Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect. Together, these technologies are ushering in a new age of gesture-based input. Furthermore, I’m wondering if it won’t be long before we finally see voice-driven computing take off. The way we interact with devices and the world around us could change significantly in the relatively near future (think sci-fi movies).

Social: How can I not mention social? Some people might claim that Facebook and Twitter are a waste of time, but there is really no denying that social technologies are changing the world. There is something fundamentally significant about being connected. Whether it’s sharing with the people you know, broadcasting in real-time to an audience of followers, or upvoting articles on a community-driven news site, the more ways that information can flow freely, the better society will be for it. Social will continue to disrupt industries and enhance the way we communicate.

Entertainment: It is clear that technology has been trying to revolutionize the music and movie industries for the past several years. Although these industries have been resistant to change, we have already seen some pretty big advancements. We can now stream music from services like Pandora and Spotify, watch movies and tv shows on demand using Netflix and Hulu, and manage our digital content on Amazon and iCloud (well, coming soon). Equally as exciting as the technology is the transformation within business models.

Location: Another obvious topic you read about in every technology blog. Worth mentioning because I think it’s a nut yet to be cracked, and there are a lot of folks trying to figure it out. Whether it’s where we are, where we’ve been, or where we’re going, there is obviously a lot of value in processing information within the context of location.

Politics: Yes, politics. The 2008 election was a breakthrough year for politics in terms of technology. The way the Obama campaign’s utilized their website, online advertising, email campaigns, and the Internet as a whole was simply masterful. You can bet that other campaign strategists took notice and that 2012 is going to be an incredible, high-tech political year. The country has never been more engaged in politics and social media will most certainly be at the fore-front.

Local commerce: Whether or not you think the daily deal phenomenon is good for business, you have to admire what companies like Groupon have done to connect consumers with local businesses. Coupled with some aspects of location-based services such as Foursquare, local commerce is an extremely hot area to watch out for – particularly because there is an obvious business model baked in. I am sure there will be a lot more innovation around finding a sustainable win-win for both consumers and businesses.

Startup culture and celebrity geekdom: Largely thanks to blogs like TechCrunch and Mashable entering the mainstream, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved with startups. Heck, even CNN is now writing about every single Apple announcement and Facebook feature that comes out. It’s awesome to think that some of the biggest geeks in the world (ahem, Zuckerburg) have the same name-recognition as Hollywood stars. Ok, so Zuckerburg did have a movie made about him. But there are other geek celebs such as Michael Arrington, Kevin Rose, Robert Scoble, Melissa Mayer, Paul Graham, and Eric Ries that are well-known and have quite a following. Technological advancement is not just about the products but also about the people you impact – and it is wonderful to see people being recognized for it.

Are you as juiced as I am about the current innovation climate? What did I leave out? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Oh, and follow me on Twitter.