Disruptive Companies, Passionate Teams

I’ve come to the realization that I like companies that try to disrupt a market. Whether it be phones, IoT devices, or software. Love rooting for the next up and coming success story, even if it means some growing pains along the way. I tend to be a very passionate person when it comes to technology.  I find myself pouring over details, specs, and features with each new thing. It’s rewarding to engage their teams over the details, as you get to see their drive and dedication.

The products trying to disrupt the market are often ones that bring in their own special flare. Even though they may not offer all the same features as the industry leaders, you can tell they are making a difference through the details. The communications coming out of these teams show their passion.  They don’t often generate hostility. As a result, their message tends to be softer and they normally try to rally others to join them.  As a result of a more neutral tone, hoping to rally people together, you often find that these teams often offer the best support. With good support comes a good and lasting impression on the market, because the best form of marketing is word of mouth.

Because of my passion for technology and great products, I often find myself going out of my way to find these new and upcoming products or technologies.  Over the years, I’ve bought into or crowdfunded numerous products that were either help achieve a personal or professional need.  I don’t always buy into products solely for the product itself, I often do it for the experience and the support. I’ve had the opportunity to follow a number of companies who were just starting out to flourishing into companies now competing against some industry leaders or going through large acquisitions. These teams were huge on gathering feedback and interacting with their communities or “evangelists”.

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Future of Technology

It is inevitable that technology in more than 10 years from now will be incredibly advanced to which we can barely imagine. Since 2000 (after the entire Y2K fiasco) we began to see technology emerge to an entire new front. Online transactions began to grow, companies began their websites, blogs were slowly beginning to take off and large enterprises have began to transform everything to a digital format. As you can see the major advancements in technology were through a form of web. There is however technology which people seems to ignore because it’s been in their life for so long.
Looking at today’s technology advancements it is clear that the future will be very different.
As I mentioned when looking at the web, there is a huge boom of activity and specialty websites. There are as we know social networks, eCommerce companies, references and information resources, blogging sites and sites delivering the news online,.. Quite frankly there is a lot, however the successful ones are the ones that have a social aspect to them.

We can also look at things that people seem to miss in terms of technology, due to the rise of the internet. This is the ease of getting a new computer or parts at what is now an affordable price. Back in 2000 a high end computer could cost you roughly $2000, these days you can get what is considered a good computer for shy of $600. Being a student, that is very convenient. If we take a deeper look, we also notice that operating systems have taken a huge step forward since Windows 2000. The ease of using today’s systems and the increase of work efficiency is stunning. Today I am running a nearly automated work station to which I don’t need to do anything more than a few clicks to get all the information I need. Not only that, it takes me less than 15 seconds to check all my email accounts (I have about 10), before it would have taken me more than 30 minutes.

On a more wide scale view of technology, these days staying in touch or communicating with the right people has become easier. Contacting someone in China for example is very easy to do and even more economical. The days of spending tens and hundreds of dollars to contact someone else overseas is done with.

You may be wondering how it all relates to education, well that is simple! I illustrated three major points in technology, the first is social networking and the web, the second is affordable technology and the third is ease of communication. Social networking will allow schools to develop a more complex social network allowing students to discuss homework or assignments, collaborate with each other with great ease and also allow the teacher to add another dimension to the grading system (another way to grade participation). The affordability of the technology will allow the students to replicate their work between their home, school locations and even portable devices. This will allow all the students to the same tools giving everyone an equal opportunity to have success in school. My third point is related to ease of communication to which will allow students to perhaps be connected to influential people throughout the world for their formation. Having the chance to hear a teacher from Europe give a specialized class on history or a well educated citizen from China to give you an insight on other cultures, the chances of a broadening education will certainly come to play.

The future of Windows will be dependent on creative thinking and leadership.
I am a firm believer that a lot of today’s systems and process can be changed. However people are scared of change. I always enjoy seeing something absolutely out of the box. With Vista, I was very happy with the package, but creativity and new features is something I cannot seem to find. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since operating systems are to satisfy the majority of people and not the more evolutionary ones such as myself. As we fly by 12 years to 2020 there is a lot of room to push fascinating new ideas and technologies that may overwhelm people while stunning others. After all, since when have features satisfied everyone?

Windows by 2020 would quite possibly be my dream at what I have in mind for current operating systems. In short, it would allow you to do everything you can think of from controlling your entire household, to bring a new feeling of communicating with a friend or relative, or even the power to control additional tools beyond your reach, such as allowing your computer to be fully accessible by you although you may be 100 km away.

Over the past year I have been attempting to program my entire house to be controlled by one central box. Sounds fun, simple, but really it isn’t. Sometimes I wish I had more engineering knowledge than I have, but sadly I do not. I so far managed to connect the bulk of electronics to this computer, from the surround system in the basement, to the sound system in the backyard, to the other sound systems in the house. It allows me to control the music everywhere and even the picture on some TVs. If I had even more control with my computer, I would allow it to regulate the temperatures throughout the house or even by room. Allow for fully automated lights within the house. Although this is my kind of dream house, the amount of savings seen through this automation will likely save homeowners hundreds if not thousands on their electric bill. With the idea of extending applications for them to be accessible away from the actual location can also have endless possibilities.

In terms of serving education we can make the best of what I pointed out. Allowing external access will allow you to say “oh I forgot my homework, can you give me 2 minutes to retrieve it from my home?” No more of these late penalties for actually forgetting your homework (I swear I’ve done this before and my dog has even had a chance to eat it). In order to make technology better suited for schools, the team designing the operating systems needs to be very open minded and creative. Think of things that people will never do and execute them.

Windows Live is powerful; Live 2020 will feel like a client side portal.
I am sure I am not the first to say this, but with the advancements on Windows Live, I am beginning to feel much more at home and comfortable using it. One of the major components I like about the service is that it is smooth and doesn’t feel like you are on the web any longer.

In order to advance into the future, we need to go back to one of my previous points, to become more of a social network. Tools that will become increasingly popular will be Word Processors, Spreadsheet applications… The bulk of applications we currently use as client side tools (tools found on our computer) will become web based. This will allow further collaboration while working on small, medium or even large assignments. Not only can this be a wonderful tool for students, but teachers can make great use of this technology to grade. Can view many revisions to see where the student may have gone wrong and possibly award additional points which would not be seen as of now. Allow a teacher to have access to the student’s search records to see whether or not they are on the right track in their studies to finish their work. Tweaking privacy settings for such things will certainly be difficult but entirely doable for what we are soon going to be coming to.

Office 2020 will allow you to get connected and have a web based power.
This is quite possibly the one tool that will undergo a huge makeover. Although as mentioned in the previous section, that Office processors will be seen in a web format, this doesn’t stop from Office 2020 from existing. We will however see that Office will be intertwined with Live 2020 in order to allow the more “old school” users to continue working as they are used to. But the advantage Office will have over live is the ability to connect the user to other sources. These sources may be contacts from other schools, other teachers, important figures… similar to remote conferencing. This will have the ability to record audio and video, ability to record whiteboard sessions and to also right notes all at one time. Taking notes in the future will change dramatically and these are the 4 ways to which it will be done in. Allowing people to use all of these tools together will hit every learning method known; whether you are a visual person, listening person or even someone that needs to learn by trying themselves. Also adding a chat option to directly contact the instructor or person that is teaching will allow the shy students to speak up or even allow an even better focus on communication while in the conference.
Mobility 2020, will power students to stay on track and in touch.

Schools or teachers have been banning mobile phones and smartphones for a few years now. It however makes me wonder, rather than ban it (and know people will continue to use it), why not make use of it? Text messaging is becoming a cheap method of contacting people. It is one of the most popular methods of communication today. Schools can easily get a bulk amount of phone numbers for text messaging purposes to allow students to contact the school during classes, whether to signal the teacher a question (to which you may not want to say aloud), to signal someone that you need access to the gym during lunch, or for teachers to send you notifications on upcoming deadlines or homework for the night. People carry their mobile phones with them all day, notifications on their phones will be extremely targeted and almost guaranteed to be seen or heard from.

Can I see this as being the future? I surely can say so. Although it will take a long time to convince school officials that mobile devices aid in a student’s education, they will eventually see the benefits of implementation.

Today’s courses will be included in the future’s history courses.
Ever hear your parents say “back in the day when I was in school, I used to do this…”? Well I am sure we all have heard it, but what they are telling us happened 30 years ago. With such a dramatic change in upcoming technologies you will be hearing people talking about 2000-2010 as if it was a distant past. Course loads will be entirely different, marking schemes will be based on more factors and materials and tools will be extremely broad. In these cases I think of myself as an extremist as I can see a lot of major changes which no one may ever foresee. Although part of what I am thinking will not be seen till beyond 2020 such as the majority of the courses being taught remotely, I believe that to some extent you will see that. By 2020 I believe we will begin to see some more speciality classes being taught, while allowing the students to broaden their exposure by featuring more international figures throughout the courses. You may begin seeing more courses that relate to technology in terms of how to develop small applications for Windows Gadgets, or an instant messaging program… today’s computer courses from high school would likely be taught in primary school. We will also be likely to see the emergence of additional courses relating to societies and real life examples and facts to affirm the studies. I also believe that there will be more researching done in courses due to ease of access to information and references.

Teachers will be forced to adapt quickly to new teaching and correcting works. As mentioned previously, work will be done through networked or online applications that will allow the teachers to view exactly what a student may mean and how much time they may have taken to work on the piece. Though this may penalize those who are quick at doing work and do just what is asked for and nothing else, but will be in favour of those who put in a lot of effort but may have some difficulties. Teachers will be able to better judge a student’s aptitude and knowledge in the future than they currently can. In my opinion, to judge someone’s intelligence based on test scores shouldn’t be the way of the future and is not entirely correct. Allowing teachers to see more into a person’s work than simply what is in front of them will certainly even out the playing field.

To be modern does not necessarily mean to look modern.
One of unfortunate truths about architecture is that it does not evolve nearly as fast as technology. Although the equipment within a building may be high tech, one may never notice. As we get more high tech we may begin to notice that schools will take your attendance through a sort of electronic device, whether by seeing if you log into the school network through your computer or if your mobile device is within certain boundaries. We may begin to notice a lot less restricted while at school, but much more. Though with the ability to manage more and do more with technology we may however notice that there will be far shorter staff on hand to actually deal with the students but far greater to deal with the technology. For instance, we may see one principal for every 10 school and one vice-principal for every 3 schools. With technology done right, it is perfectly doable and from a business/financial standpoint it makes perfect sense.

Extracurricular activities are doubtfully going to change. However we begin to see additional clubs being created though some may get abolished. Clubs such as chess, checkers, card games, even board games are likely to give way to an electronic format to increase the level of difficulty for some of the more advanced players. With some clubs, some members may notice that others are not nearly as enthusiastic about the activity as they are, by connecting to people in the region, the province, and country or even throughout the world they may find someone as passionate as they are and enjoy themselves even more. Yearbook committees will be able to have access to supplemental resources and even additional tools such as Microsoft Surface, allowing them to manipulate the images freely as if they were real.

To conclude this wonderful journey into the future, how do we get there?
The road to 2020 will be a bumpy one at best. That’s right, get out the off-road vehicle (even with these gas prices), throw on some mud slicks and plow right through it! We are likely to see parents, teachers, administrations, councils… complain about how we are removing privacy from the students and increasing the work load. The reality of all this is that in an ever fast paced environment you must keep up, many people find themselves overwhelmed when they begin to work. The reason of this is because schooling has not prepared them for such situations. Eventually through all the battles people will come to an understanding that this is very much a necessity in a young person’s life in order to be successful in the future.

What goes to say I am right or wrong about the future? There is a lot of evidence that schools are testing the waters and being extremely cautious with certain new styles and techniques. At some point in the near future I will be advocating change as much if not more than I am now. A lot of things I suggest or visualize are not entirely hard to do but would make everyone’s lives simple and allowing them to place more time into things they enjoying most. The world needs leaders that are willing to reinvent the wheel at times and come up with things that are entirely thought provoking concepts. Can the Bill Gates (Microsoft), the Mark Zuckerburg (Facebook) or the Pierre Omidyar (eBay) of tomorrow strive to achieve the world into yet another dramatic change, I sure think so!