You've been in one of these discussions where you marvel with a friend at all these new start-ups and discuss their founders' incredible stories. Then suddenly realize you're roughly the same age as they are and start throwing out ideas, convinced you too just might be able to pull off the next big thing. "If they did it, why can't we ?" But the ideas narrow down and the next billion dollar business always seems to already have been invented. That's when you decide to go for a despair-sinking drink because, you know, really : "What's left to invent ?"
I've grown fond of the word 'Disrupt' lately, probably because of reading Techcrunch so often. It feels so powerful : It's both a welcome and an un-welcome questionning of the old rotten status-quo. A breath of fresh air for the ones depending on a given industry's products and services and a shivering cold down the back of the neck of those holding the traditionnal reins. What's left to invent ? Probably nothing. But more because nothing has ever been invented really. Everything is a re-invention. Just as there are no original ideas, there are no inventions in this world. Yes. Everything is a re-mix. So what's left to disrupt ? And here the answer is every effing thing you can possibly think off. Boundaries ? Your imagination and the Unrestfulness of your soul. But here's a list to inspire you anyways :
- Education : Where are personalized tests and courses ? Customization is the big new feature in every software we've seen, yet it is lagging in the one field where unified content doesn't make sense. We recognize two iphone users won't want the same background but have trouble establishing the necessity for differenciated learning material ! The potential disuptor will start by taking the classroom to the cloud, implement videos so that every student can lear at his own pace and most importantly, personalized learning tracks with curated videos for inspiration at every new node or "level up" in the track. That way, students can better decide which track they want to follow. Inspiration-powered education, imagine that !
- The News : Again ? Physical newspapers already lost their readers, what more do you want ? Well, I'm after the guts of the industry. Did you know that some journalists still waste time with meanial tasks such as collecting hyperlocal news (John Smith died in XX neighborhood 2 days ago, WW church is organizing an expo on thursday ...). This should be transfered to everyday people and local communities (churches, associations …). The crowd can take care of that. Also, adaptive evolving news hasn't taken its toll yet. Everything you read should include at some point a variant of the like / unlike buttons : but not for sharing. Rather for the software to remember and learn from your preference in order to better target your taste.
- Payments : A lot is being done. From Square to NFC to fingerpint based payments (really). But check out seconds and its founder's recent article in Techcrunch. Towards the end, he talks about payment being linked to location and specific merchants to such a point that it would appear as a button next to a restaurant's name for example when you search Google maps. Imagine the menu of the restaurant pops out on the map, imagien you choose your favorite, pay, and go collect your order. Appetude is halfway there, foodspotting should think about it. Integration with Google maps should be a no-brainer.
- Your wallet : Why do we still carry wallets ? Seriously. Isn't 2012 the future yet ? Loyalty cards, credit cards, membership cards. Every card type is a billion dollar business to conquer. Check out all the credit-card linked apps out there.
- Your calendar : Your calendar is empty and boring and missing all the events happening now and here, just near you ! Imagine an app delivering integrating personalized or/and curated nearby events into your calendar.
- E-mail : I don't even want to get started. The most time-consuming human invention needs a overhaul.
- The TV : At this point, TV is looking more and more like a bigger computer screen with a much less intuitive, right to the point UI. Google TV is a welcome revolution in that sense but it's still far from what it should be. Porting Android to yet another device is not the solution. The TV hardware in and by itself needs to be much more versatile. Actually, looking at Windows 8, the one place where this UX actually belongs is not my PC but rather the TV where the Desktop tile would stand for TV channels instead. I think Microsoft Smartglass is a step in the right direction towards the sound convergence of the 3 screens (Tablet/PC, phone, TV).
- TV content : Can you even imagine that broadcast TV and Youtube videos live in two separate worlds all because the TV in your living room is a stronghold of TV broadcasters. A device you don't really own and can't hack, though you paid for it ! I personally don't watch TV. I watch Yotube videos. What's truly relevant here though are : Curated channels (redux), Personalized channels (cull.tv). Yes, I believe curation still has a place in a world where personalizatin seems to be conquering everything. I see high-quality curation as a guarantee of serendipity. That's why I read Brain pickings.
- The Health Business : Transferable medical records, genome sequencing, personalized medication. Your doctor owns your data. Seriously. You can't move it from one to the other because it's on your doctors PC ! Doctors are much worse than Facebook in that sense since health data is much more vital to you.
- The Cell Carriers : The smartphones you have are computers, they aren’t phones. No need for cell networks, you just need the internet. You can text using whatsapp and the likes and call using Skype and its bretherens. The only time where you actually need a cell network is when you don’t have access to wi-fi. That’s ... what ? 30% of the time ? Is it worth paying 20 to 60 euros a month for that ? Wi-fi will end up being eveyrwhere one day. The day 4G is everywhere, there will be no need for the cell network. See these bars in the top right ? The'll disappear and just be replaced by a wi-fi signal. It's all you need anyway. Look up Fon and Republic Wireless.
- Scientific research : Yes, I mean science : Tubes and chemicals and stuff. A paper needs 12 months to be published. It is done only on a single medium. A researcher modelling a new protein has to describe it in written form when he could use a 3D interactive model to actually relay his idea. But he can’t because peer-reviewed research is not compatible with the best kind of medium. This is a perfect example of a sub-optimal process slowing down a whole field and hampering its adaption to new technology.
- Real-life Networking : I don't want to pass a physical business card anymore. Poor trees and poor wallet. I have a phone in my righ hand, why put it in my pocket to reach some physical cards when I can pass a digital version of all my contacts.
- Dating : Haven't been there but dating online still feels awkward. Something needs to be done towards making it more natural. We're laready friending people online, dating is the next step but still : It doesn't feel right for the moment.
- Weddings : Haven't been there yet but organizing tables, setting up an ugly website, calling people, making sure they mix an mingle, and enjoy their time, buy you gifts ... A paper-free wedding should be possible. Check out Appy couple
- Gifting : Both for sending a creative, thoughtful gift and coming up with the friend fund to finance one for a common buddy. Not on the high street is an interesting website for gift inspiration and apps such as Wrapp, Dropgifts and the gift project offer the possibility to gather funds and gift things among friends.
- Recruitment : Recruitment is sub-optimal too. Businessses just can't find
- Recommendations : Of what ? Of everything : travel, personnal finance ... Personnal cosultants in general are nowhere to be found when you need them and too expensive to afford when they're actually useful. Even descision making needs some diruption I'm not doing justice to each of these sections by listing them and their potential disruptions so briefly.
And the list goes on and on really. And all this is to answer the title of the post : What is left to invent ? What's not ? There is no final design, there is no final solution, everything is unstable, waiting to be re-imagined. By who ? By you. This is a democracy. The citizens are the users and they have a right of say and may in every business that affects them. You are a walking menace. Only voicing things out isn't bringing about any change.
Nietzsche in a way is behind the very concept of disruption. In "Thus Spake Zarathustra", the child is the last stage of a being's evolution. He starts off as a camel, enduring, taking in all the conventions and agreed-upon paradigms. Then he becomes a Lion. Courageous, insolent, ready to vanquish the dragon that ruled him and washed his mind. But he end up as a child. Because courage is not enough. You need a new eye to tackle things. A naive, intuitive way of looking at life. And just like a kid : scramble everyhting and start all over again.