Second Stage Use

I’ve been thinking alot over the past few years about when implementations of new technology become interesting.
There is often a pattern of:

– creation: someone very clever or opportunistically creates a new technique or technology, often an engineer with specific purpose in mind.
– beautiful implementation: someone also very clever uses the new technology, often slightly subverting the original use, and in a very striking way.
– saturation/mainstream: many many many other people use the technique again and again, but generally in the same way, just variation on a theme.
– hibernation: the technique often loses its main appeal, or the excitement of its original use lessens.
– blended use: someone, very clever or opportunistically, then blends the original technique with something else, a mashup, to create something better than the sum of its parts.

Whilst I love the creation and beautiful implementation phases, what really excites me is the second stage of use, the new subtle application of the technology, often combined with another technique or technology to create better effect. Location aware technology has been through the creation and beautiful implementation phases, and probably is coming through the saturation phase, and we’re starting to see some interesting blended location based ideas.

It is not the ‘I am here’ which is the cool thing about Foursquare, its the ‘I am here, and two of my friends have been here, and suggested not to try the coffee’ which is interesting. It is not the oyster card which is interesting, it is the email which I received about Farringdon being closed next week, initiated through my regular use of the station, rather than any explicit instruction for alerts.

This second stage use is what creates interesting ideas.

We’re not far from walking into Starbucks having already ordered our coffee whilst on the train, and it being hot and ready for you when you walk into the store, because it knew when you were 90 seconds away from picking it up.

The interesting comes from the result of an action, not from the action itself.