Sunday, July 22, 2018

Instead of more cell towers, how about cell balloons?



Imagine re-making the components of a cell tower, hanging them from a self-guided robot balloon, and sending the whole thing up to 20km above the earth, and achieving a coverage area of 5,000 square km instead of the usual 300 square km.

That's Project Loon, created at X (the crazy idea part of Google), now graduated as independent businesses within the Alphabet company (which is the umbrella company over Google). Let me know if you need a company organizational chart to follow all that. The tech itself isn't this confusing.

The balloons already worked in Puerto Rico. An early contract has been signed with Kenya for more coverage in rural areas.

Imagine not needing cell towers to cover a rural area. Imagine positioning them to manage dead spots, or quickly redeploying them when a dead spot is identified. Imagine really good cell signal in even sparsely populated areas.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Clean Slate - Not my 3 words for the year

Geometric chalk art


My friend Chris came up with the idea of using three words to guide your year. It's good. Lots of people like it.

I like how he builds flexibility into the words. They can mean multiple things, have multiple layers of meaning.

I've never done it. But I have this phrase rolling around in my head lately, and I think I should share it. I repeat it in my head several times a day for different things.

Clean slate.

Each day, I start with a clean slate nutritionally. No matter what I ate yesterday, today I can choose to stick with my personal guidelines.

Each day, I start with a clean slate of work. When I pick my 6 Most Important Things to work on tomorrow, I can choose what really is most important.

Clean slate.

So it's not really a 3 words thing, but it's what's going on in my head as we start a new year.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Annual Review in November



I know it's November, and not time for annual reviews, but I just did one.

I used an outline I got from my friend Jon Swanson a couple of years ago.

Take an hour and a chair and a cup of coffee and something to write with. Take a planner from the year or a journal or a Facebook stream. Ask yourself these questions:
  • What did I like about this year?
  • What didn’t I like?
  • What don’t I understand?
  • What did I learn about God?
  • What did I learn about people?
  • What am I going to do next year with what I learned?

I found this to be good at refining the experiences of a year into some clear intentions for my next actions.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What Detroit and small towns have in common


I was in Detroit a few years back, and I saw a small sampling of the challenges. They reminded me of small town challenges with empty buildings, declining population, and turning to entrepreneurs for the future.

The people of Detroit reminded me of small town people. They were friendly, and looked me in the eye. It was a funny pattern. They'd say, "Don't believe everything you hear about Detroit." They wanted me to know it's not as awful as people say, that good people live there. It felt like a small town, hoping you don't all think they're hicks.

So I keep reading articles about Detroit, and the people working there. Outside experts keep telling them it can't be done, that the problems are too big. And people come in from outside, to save them. 

Whether it's Detroit or a small town, I hate that outlook, "we're going to save them." People, stop looking down on us. Help us do what needs done or get out of our way.

One of those articles, Saving Detroit, spurred some small town thoughts.

  • "A successful small business person can make a difference." In a small town, it takes less success or wealth to make a bigger difference. 
  • "A vibrant city needs a vibrant center. Suburbs cannot fill that need." Most small towns are pretty compact, and not very suburb-y.
  • Like Detroit, a small town does attract "the poorest, least educated and most unskilled – because it’s such a cheap place to live." But many small towns have shrunk, and face the same challenges of having more space than they need for their current people.
  • "If Detroit manages to revive its downtown, like Chicago's Loop, it will take a long time to stretch that prosperity outside of the core, like Chicago faces today." For a small town, is it any easier to spread the prosperity around? Is it possible that prosperity is harder to concentrate in the first place? 

Saturday, July 08, 2017

The link between community and innovation

Connecting people with each other is the essence of both community and innovation. I wrote that, and I'm still thinking through the implications of how those two interact.

My friend Renina added healing to the list. Worth thinking on as well.

Becky McCray, Raul Colon, Jasmine Zhou, Ric Dragon and Shashi Bellamkonda at the Genius Shared event in Chicago