And We’re Off! Till ~2024

The start of the adventure begins with this humble blog post and the inaugural event this fall.

Since childhood my interests have been two-pronged. On one side the “telephone” (engineering and futurology) and on the other side existentialism (contemplative psychology/science). But as the two were disparate, my life until very recently felt uncomfortably “schizophrenic”. For example the people I conversed with for engineering telecommunication signaling systems do not overlap with the people I converse with about Advaita Vedanta.

Living life in such separated compartments does not feel right or good. It seems we’re happiest when we’re “integrated” as far as possible. ‘Hyper Wellbeing’ is my first opportunity to integrate the two sides.

Eight years ago next month, I put many years of personal research forward when I created the Emerging Communications Conference & Awards. I opened with:

The telephone itself is dead long term. What replaces it – is a device – which combines content, information access, entertainment, ecommerce as well as ever expanding modalities of communications. Voice probably takes a secondary position in that multi-modality suite. So we are talking about a device which is clearly not a phone.

I still remember hearing some audience sniggers. The majority of people back then had keypad “dumb” phones or BlackBerry “smart phones”, so I guess it was not easy to envisage that the mobile would soon become a portable computer and as such, the primary function of telephony just an app among many (there were no “app stores” back then). But in just two years we’d outgrown the Computer History Museum and Ge Wang stood on stage and played an iPhone as a globally networked flute, truly demonstrating my vision.

Ge Wang (Smule/Stanford) on stage at eComm America 2010 in San Francisco.
Ge Wang (Smule/Stanford) on stage at eComm America 2010 in San Francisco.

Owing to that diligent personal research I also positively pushed Android (remember it had not launched yet) over the course of the event – although press had widely said it would be a failure – and had Google send two speakers on the topic including Android co-founder Rich Miner.

It was also this debut event that the death of Nokia was pushed as a certainty, even though Nokia was the market leader. For example an audience member during Q+A asked Mark Rolston “Could Nokia pull this [iPhone] off? Nokia having 40% of whatever or the market”. He replied:

Nokia certainly could pull it off. But I think Nokia with their platforms is a little too subscribed to an agnostic take on value. And, that is not how you give birth to a market that is how you follow-up. And so, the market is too young right now and what you need is a lot of high value and highly contextual applications that say, “This is the way to go” and what I have seen so far in the touch platform that they are developing and the existing platform is that the experience is shabby. It is kind of cobbled together and the market is growing out of that. It looks like the technology underneath and it should not. This is too late for that. Those things will be challenged.

The agnosticism is a great growth stage but you cannot end up there so Nokia needs to grow out of that. I think that they have the capacity to but they are also slaved to the success of that early platform. All the developers are going to bitch and whine if they try and move the direction that I am suggesting.

Microsoft faces that, right? That many PC platforms, that many variations of the PC, that many application developers, it is hard for Microsoft to make a bold escape from their own destiny. Nokia is a smaller version of that, easily.

The event captured and promoted the soon-to-be shift in mobile communications which we all take for granted today; the shift to “open” mobile and with it “democratized communications innovation” (anyone can write a mobile app and distribute it without depending on extremely costly legal and commercial relationships with each telecom carrier). A search engine (Google) and a computer manufacturer (Apple) really did “encroach” the telecommunications space as I’d explicitly predicted; a sort of heresy which brought sneers from telecom carriers and their vendors at the time. No other event was taking such a broad view of communications and associated potential for innovation at the time.

Once again I’ve spent five years doing personal private research and once again I’m ready to put it forward in a breakthrough inaugural event. Once again I’m creating a boutique gathering for evangelizing yet another imminent leap for the “mobile phone”. The mobile phone can no longer be separated from wearables; which use the “mobile phone” as a central processing hub. Together with other key emerging technologies (e.g. machine learning, Big Data, affective computing, biosensors etc) they represent the next evolution of the “mobile phone” (portable super-computer) to a device which helps us scale Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In fact, these emerging technologies taken together are ushering in a third computing revolution. It’s therefore apt, that this new event will also debut at the Computer History Museum.

Among the great feedback for the Emerging Communications event, this stands out to me:

Years ago, in 1982, I attended the Stanford Design Conference (it only lasted about 3-4 years) down in Palo Alto. This symposium was trying to blend design w/technology and provide a stage to show how both were inter-related.

Back then I had only heard of Steve Jobs in passing and didn’t realize that he was the Apple ‘guy’. Needless to say, Jobs gave an incredible presentation that still resonates w/me today since his talk was about how important design was and was going to be in technology (this was 18 months prior to the introduction of the Mac).

Your conference was the first since the SDC that was equally as informative and inspiring. Keep it up, the business and the industry needs forums like eComm

– NEC (Platinum Sponsor)

I hope and expect the event this fall will match or surpass this in terms of such insight and inspiration. This time it’s all of me involved, not half.

I welcome in advance everyone who will join me on this journey. A more purposeful journey than before.