antipaucity

fighting the lack of good ideas

raas – the failure of “-as-a-service” in the physical world

Roads are empty something like 90% of the time.

8% of the time, they’re rightly-sized. 1.5% of time, they’re a little tight

1.5% of time, they’re a little tight.But that .5%? Holy CRAP

But that .5%? Holy CRAP are they ever too small when they’re too small.

Imagine if the “*-as-a-Service” model could be applied to roads: expand their capacity on-demand as use requires. It works for businesses expanding and contracting their technical needs (a la cloud computing).

It [could] work for getting fancy dentures when you need them.

I guess this is what flying cars are supposed to alleviate – but with ~220,000,000 registered drivers in the US, imagine even 0.1% of them driving flying cars. That’d be 220,000 flying cars. If even 1% of them decided to utilize the “flight” aspect at any given time, that’d be 2200 vehicles in the air. 2200 vehicles with no flight plans. 2200 vehicles in an unknown state of fueling, repair, etc. Air travel is currently the safest form of transport. Would that still be true with 2200 angry drivers trying to escape from the traffic they find themselves in at the same time? Especially given the non-uniform distribution of those vehicles (they’ll dominantly simultaneously appear in ultra-densely-populated areas and ultra-rural ones), this wouldn’t be the utopia of George Jetson. It’s be the insanity of Back to the Future Part II when the Delorean arrives in 2015 from 1985. But worse.

My best professor once said, “no one has gotten elected saying they want to eliminate roads”. But followed that up with, “every time roads are expanded, they get just as busy during busy times, and waste an awful lot of concrete the other 23.2 hours of the day”.

What we need is a way to carry-over the technological paradigm of “*-as-a-Service” into physical infrastructure. Because it sucks. Bad.

I don’t know best to approach that. Certainly the “sharing economy” models of Uber & Lyft are a component.

And self-driving cars will help.

But only when they’re not only “self-driving”, but when they’re actively communicating and optimizing with other vehicles. But what happens when you are “optimized” into a “slower” path because other vehicles were “optimized” into “faster” ones?

It’s certainly a thorny area of societal thinking to wade into. And one that needs lot of thoughtful input and consideration from many quarters.

the jetsons used cash

They had flying cars. That would fold-up into a briefcase.

They had magic bubbles that’d pop out from their fingers to shroud themselves on their floaty-seats that delivered them to school or the mall.

But they used cash. Really? With all the crazy futuristic stuff they tried to wedge into that program, the creators thought we’d still be using cash in a flying-car future?

Maybe they were onto something. Cash does have the value of being tangible, and not being tracked.

it’s not a better apple tv

But the HomePod is an interesting take on my suggestion of making the Apple TV better.

what is happening with news publishers?

I think, closer to the lines of thought that Ben Thompson of Stratechery has laid-out, that news publishing is about to undergo a major nichification – the days of everyone trying to report everything is over.

“Local” (whether by geography, interest, or some other grouping mechanism) publishing in narrowly-defined niches is basically going to finish gobbling the Old Line news publishers in the next 3-5 years. And I see automated “curation” (though, if it’s automated, it’s technically not “curating”) as a clever way to cross-cut unforeseen niches from other niches (and from the handful of “major” publishers that will refuse to die – even through they’re going to dramatically shrink very soon) – think applying pivot table data anaysis concept to news and publishing, rather than mere data.

Jean-Louis Gassée wrote in February the following about Facebook, & Google, about news publishers: “If they are really willing to contribute to a sustainable news ecosystem, as they claim, both should allow publishers to sell subscriptions on their platforms (while collecting a fee, obviously).” 

And that’s certainly an interesting idea – but one that I think will only last, if it even comes to fruition, for a very short period of time. It’s the Napster of news publishing.

I see news publishing undergoing the same sea change the music industry did starting in the late 90s with the rise of #Napster. Until Napster came along, if you wanted to listen to a specific song, you had to either a) wait for it to be on the radio, b) get the vinyl/tape/CD, c) get a friend to record it for you from the radio or some media they had. Then Napster and its ilk came along with peer-to-peer file-sharing, crazy lawsuits from the #RIAA, and services like #Apple’s #iTunes charging a mere $0.99 per track (and $9.99 per digital album) made file-sharing (which became a major attack vector for malware)

Then Napster and its ilk came along with peer-to-peer file-sharing, crazy lawsuits from the #RIAA, and services like #Apple’s #iTunes charging a mere $0.99 per track (and $9.99 per digital album) made file-sharing (which became a major attack vector for malware) far far less interesting: why spend hours searching for and downloading songs (which might be lousy quality, not the “real” song, etc) when you could just go to iTunes and get what you want in a couple minutes for 99¢?

Then came Pandora. And Spotify. And probably all kinds of other services I don’t know anything about. Why? Because people wanted what they wanted when they wanted it.

The same is true for “news”. How much of an average newspaper issue does the historically-average newspaper reader actually read? 10%? 30%? 50%? I’d bet anything north of 20% is highly unlikely overall.

And what do you have to do to “read” the news in a newspaper? You need to skip past ads, you need to flip between pages (and sometimes sections), you need to physically get the paper. And on and on. Paginated websites (like diply, just to name one) try to replicate the newspaper feel (flipping pages, skipping ads, not being able to see everything until you get to the end, etc) in a move to make money by selling ads and forcing eyeballs to look at them. (To combat that, folks like me run tools like pihole and ublock origin.)

Nichifying news is going to be a huge thing very soon: somewhat akin to the idea of targeted newsletters, but for “real” news, and not just something related to a website.