Technology, regulations and innovations

Google has just released a video revealing their work on a drone delivery system, named Project Wing, which has been undergoing testing in Australia.

What struck me was that obviously Australia makes sense in terms of a testbed for large distances and potentially isolated customers, but also perhaps somewhere which isn’t tightening up regulations on drone flights as quickly as in the U.S and UK.

After all, in the U.S, the FAA has already banned the use of drones to deliver packages.

Meanwhile it’s likely Amazon will start actually delivering products via drones in India in the near future, according to reports.

Obviously there are safety implications in drone flights, along with other potential problems and hazards to overcome. But it seems that the response in the UK and U.S is rapidly becoming one in which governments and law enforcement agencies are undoubtedly increasing their drone usage all the time, but private companies and individuals are going to find themselves more and more restricted in what they can do.

That’s not only got implications for the innovation possible by those private concerns, but also how that feeds into advancements which governments might want to utilise. If India leads the way in drone deliveries, it’s going to lead the way in drone technology too.

In the meantime, I’ll be left waiting for a service which can deliver grilled steak tacos to my house every day for lunch.


Appearing on Econsultancy – thanks Google…

Just a quick one to share how proud I am to have been asked to comment on Google’s recent keyword and search algorithm changes not once, but twice, for the Econsultancy site.

Both are great articles as they bring a number of very insightful people together from the search and marketing worlds.



The real problem with Google closing Reader

So Google Reader will close at the end of this month, and something has really stood out for me in this article on the closure by Wired.

They quote Richard Gingras, senior director, News and Social Products at Google;

“Users with smartphones and tablets are consuming news in bits and bites throughout the course of the day — replacing the old standard behaviours of news consumption over breakfast along with a leisurely read at the end of the day.”

Unfortunately, there are significant benefits to the old standard behaviours in this case. Consuming news in bits and bites is deeply inefficient, as all the studies on multitasking have found. Check out the handy Wikipedia page on Multitasking for a number of references:

Mayer and Moreno have studied the phenomenon of cognitive load in multimedia learning extensively and have concluded that it is difficult, and possibly impossible to learn new information while engaging in multitasking.

I’m pretty sure that in a company as educated as Google, more than one person must realise that swapping a tool which allows you to focus and concentrate on accumulating learning and knowledge for odd grabbed bits of news throughout the day is going to actually lessen what people get from them.

So the logical conclusion has to be that Google doesn’t care if people get stupider, as long as they’re continuing to use Google Now/Google+/Google Search to do it.

Having used Reader for several years, I decided to use the closure announcement as an experiment to see how I could potentially function just by other information sources (mainly social networks and email). My conclusion is that although I’ve been able to still keep up with a superficial overview of my interests, it requires wading through a lot of social updates (which may or may not be of interest) to try and find something relevant. And that’s further cluttered by recommendations from each network which are blatantly a load of old cobblers.

At the same time, there are 2-3 email newsletters I really value, but these are collated links which can be weeks or months old. Great for discovering hidden gems I missed at the time, but not so helpful for keeping up with the latest news and articles on a subject.

In short, as someone who works in an information-heavy industry as a content producer as well as consumer, there is no adequate substitute for a decent RSS reader of relevant feeds, and the options for replacing Google Reader with something that does the job as well are sorely limited. It makes it harder to focus on learning, harder to maintain my own sites and point people to great new articles, and removes the pleasurable experience of a relaxing Sunday morning spent with great writing from around the web.