Many years ago, when I first stepped away from employment to go my own way, I developed a mantra: Work hard. Have fun. Make money. Usually, I found achieving any two of the three was easy—but nailing all three was a real challenge, and over the years, distraction pushed my mantra further and further back into memory.
When I started ShelIsrael.com last September, my mantra came back to me. I certainly needed to make more money, and I always seem to be working hard, but I also needed to have more fun, and that had been missing all too often for me lately.
Step 1 was to recommit myself to serving early phase companies. Something there is that I just love a spunky little startup intent on disrupting the world and in a hurry to do it.
And Step 2 was to spend as much time writing as possible. This can fly in the face of the Make Money part. Very few Tech-Business writers find themselves hauling in wheelbarrows of money; not even in bitcoin. So, there is a delicate balance involved.
Back in September, I winged it a bit in my original announcement. While I painted a seemingly clear big picture, closer scrutiny revealed fuzziness in the details. I figured the market would tell me what it wanted, but the market was busy dealing with its own stuff. So, I’ve been steadily tweaking, calibrating, rethinking, fiddling, futzing and otherwise restating my service offerings.
I think I am now close to knowing what I should do and am no longer confusing it with what I could do.
So, let me shift focus and talk about what I am actually doing now, what I have decided not to do, and what I specifically want to do.
In December, I began to ghostwrite a tech-business book with the CEO and president of Startup Genome, a San Francisco-based early phase firm consulting managers of startup ecosystems. In philosophy and focus, we are fellow travelers. The book, currently untitled, notes that despite inspiring stories of great wealth and Unicorns, accelerators, incubators and cooperative workspaces have produced extremely tepid results. The book is prescriptive, explaining how startup ecosystems worldwide can do far better, in part, by taking advantage of local assets.
It’s a good book and I like their story.
Dane Stangler, Genome’s president, it turns out is an excellent writer himself, so my role is actually more as a writer-adviser than a ghostwriter. Further, I’ve agreed to remain on after the manuscript is completed.
When the Genome book is completed, I have been asked to stay on the team taking them through the self-publishing process and then the book launch. In this light, I will be more than just a ghostwriter, I will be more of a book authoring, publishing, marketing consultant for self-publishers.
This is a new role that I like, and I will look for similar roles when the Genome work is completed.
Augmenting People on Hold but AI & AR writing are not.
My own book, Augmenting People: Why AR Should Back Us Up, Not Push Us Out, is officially on hold. I simply found it too hard to ghostwrite one book in the morning and write my own in the afternoon. Trying to do so was not fun. And writing my own book for self-publication does not make money, while my ghostwriting-consulting does.
When the Genome project finishes, I am unsure if I will turn back to Augmenting People or find a new project that is as appealing and rewarding as the Genome book is proving to be.
None of this, in any way, diminishes from my continuing interest in AR and AI and you can expect to see more original content and more issues of ISTM from this point forward. In my next issue, I’ll spotlight Exit Reality VR, a San Francisco-based startup that may not have the immersive technology that blows your socks off, but has a business model so successful that the biggest problem they face is scaling, not funding.
For the ISTM following that issue I’m interviewing the founder of British-based Synthesia, the controversial British AI software startup behind Deep Fake news videos. His PR person has promised me a story that shows the benefits of their technology rather than the deeply disturbing and deceptive examples you have already seen. I will be asking what steps the company can take to stop the abusive deceptions that YouTube reveals.
We shall see.
I am constantly looking for new immersive companies and technologies that will improve life and work and want each ISTM to begin with original content. Please, let me know if you can point me in the right direction. As a reward, I would offer you a free newsletter subscription, but you already have one.
VRARA Advisor SF
The irrational exuberance of VR and AR we expressed in The Fourth Transformation seems to have dissipated. We have entered into a post-hype era of clean and sober.
Immersive technologies have entered a new period of clean and sober and there is a good deal happening, particularly in the relatively unsexy categories like manufacturing, logistics, security, health and education. The under-hyped advent of Projected AR is showing a new and pragmatic potential.
This may not stimulate the excitement of Pokémon hunting and alien zapping, but it does bring the remarkable values of immersive technologies to more businesses and people than ever before. Growth in 2018 for the industry was not spectacular for the industry and consolidation eliminated ODG and Meta, two of my favorite headset companies.
I believe 2019 will be a period of steady immersive technology refinements, and slow price erosion that will generate steady and healthy adoption.
This is also a time when the tenor of events related to AR and VR gets less social and more professional. AWE has an incredibly valuable conference annually in Silicon Valley each May, and they also hold monthly AWE nights in many cities of the world. I’m a regular attendee in San Francisco, which helps me understand what’s going on at the edge of the AR world and lets me build relationships.
I’ve also developed a close relationship with Mike Boland and Emily Olman, co-presidents of the VRAR Association San Francisco chapter. I was pleased and flattered when they invited me to serve as Senior Advisor to the chapter. It will be officially announced at a lunch event this Wednesday, Feb. 13 in San Francisco.
I plan to be an active advisor, working closely with Mike and Emily and perhaps other members as well.
More ISTM Less Facebook
Like most people, I have grown ambivalent trying to figure out what to do about Facebook. Like so many people, I find the best place to complain is on Facebook. That’s because—despite the deteriorating quality of the conversation—it remains the fastest, easiest way to reach lots of people.
I like the quality of people I am reaching on ISTM far better, and I now reach more people here than I do on Facebook.
So, I am taking a step toward this outlet instead. My longer, more serious writing on the business of technology will be posted on ISTM, where lighter pieces on tech, breaking news, pointing you to links and bitching about political malfeasance will continue on Facebook.