“Technological optimism”

Just read about a new startup of Dov Moran, called “Modu” and it prompted a number of thoughts.

Moran is a remarkable person. In fact he is the one standing behind the invention of USB flash drive and M-Systems that was sold to SanDisk for $1.6 bln. “Modu” is his new startup developing a device that according to the article will revolutionize the world of mobile phones or in other words mobility of personal data. It was the claim for revolutionizing that kept me reading the article and thinking about it.

The idea of “Modu” is a miniature device with memory, energy source, and cellular abilities. It can be attached to anything from your land-line, the radio in your car, your laptop, etc. Once attached the hosting device is getting the capabilities of the “Modu”. In other words you have one mobile set of all your personal communication data, which is usually found in you mobile phone, and make it useful with all the other devices. You wouldn’t need a fixed line and a mobile – according to the limited information that Ynet journalists could gather (the project is very secret), “Modu” will take care of that.

According to the article, having all the personal communication data on a single miniature device will change the world (they actually start the article with this statement). This is where my social training is kicking in. Will it? Will people want to have everything on a single device? We don’t know enough about the product yet, but how is that information going to be protected and backed up? What about compatibility of “Modu” with all the other devices? Moreover, is there an economic model behind the device that will make the device standing out from being just another gadget? For example, the cellular communication is usually more expensive. How does that fit into shifting everything into a single mobile? Would organizations like their employers walking home with all the corporate information on their “Modu”? And the list can go on…

It is interesting how in most cases the new gadgets are described with such an optimism and, i would say, from a deterministic perspective. And then i start also thinking if such an enthusiasm about technology is necessary attribute for any visionary beginning in that industry. Most of the technological gurus i hear are always optimistic, as are the people behind technological startups. The fact that most of the startups fail and the fact that less than a decade ago we witnessed a major .com bubble, seems not being able to wipe out that belief in the next gadget changing the world (I suddenly remember Kindle and the fact that it has practically disappeared from the public agenda).

And that is interesting. I wonder how this technological optimism works. Is it an inseparable component of innovation? Is critical thinking here in fact limits creativity?

What do you think?


5 Responses to ““Technological optimism””

  1. Leonid Says:

    Obviously, people behind startups are bound to be optimistic about their products (and technology in general) — otherwise, they won’t get any funding. They need to persuade the other party, VCs, that “it will work”.

  2. Dima Says:

    I still have two questions then. One, if everybody knows it is the game, how come it still works. And two, i can see why the entrepreneurs have to be optimistic, but why the media have to follow without exercising any judgment?

  3. Leonid Says:

    One, if everybody knows it is the game, how come it still works.
    Why shouldn’t it? Between all the people that believe that their idea will work, only small fraction actually get any funding. Their job is to be optimistic, and VCs’ one — to be skeptic. Theoretically, VCs exercise their better judgment and experience to pick a potentially successful future start-up between dozens of those who just delude themselves. :)

    why the media have to follow without exercising any judgment
    Because a) it talks about future product, b) almost nothing is known about it yet. Media definitely does bash existing products sometimes — see what they have been doing to Vista for the last year. But they need a story, and “we have some information, not ,uch, but it won’t work” doesn’t make much of a story. I definitely agree with you that the description as it appears there, raises some questions, and it’s amazingly unprofessional not to ask them. I have strong complaints about all sci-tech coverage all over the world, I think I told you once.
    These questions will surely be asked (if not by ynet, then by theregister) and I’m sure they have a very good answers for that. Or not. We’ll see. I’m very excited, though not necessarily optimistic. :)

  4. Leonid Says:

    “not ,uch” => “not much”

  5. Web 2.0 criticized « ::: Think Macro ::: Says:

    […] the changes in the media. Even though it it is understandable why industry spokespeople would be inherently enthusiastic about technology, careful assessment of socio-economic environment can help making better […]

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