What to see at Solid

A look at the interdisciplinary learning paths you'll find at Solid.

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Save 25% on registration for Solid with code SLD25. Solid is our conference on the convergence of software and hardware, and the Internet of Things.

Flipping through the schedule for our Solid conference, you might wonder why we offer talks on synthetic biology in the same program that includes sessions on smart factories and how to ship goods within supply chains. The answer is that Solid is about a nascent movement — new hardware — that draws on a lot of different areas of expertise. It’s about access and the idea that physical things are becoming easier for anyone to create and engineer. Understanding hardware and the Internet of Things, then, is critical for every technologist and every company.

Solid’s program has emphasized interdisciplinary learning from the beginning; we’ve seen that a smart, accessible, connected world will need contributions from a lot of different backgrounds: designers, electrical engineers, software developers, executives, investors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and artists.

The keynotes that we’ve lined up will provide an overview, and a sense of how widely impactful this idea is; they touch on designmanufacturing, urban futures, synthetic biology, governmentinnovation, and techno-archaeology (a topic we’ve explored in the Solid Podcast). And they’ll wrap up with a thought-provoking talk — with a demo — on how we experience flavor.

After lunch on Wednesday and Thursday, the program gets broad.

I’ve drawn up a handful of paths that you might consider taking as you go through Solid next week. None of these is a comprehensive program, but they’ll serve as jumping-off points for different members of the new hardware community. Read more…

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The IoT will be as fundamental as the Internet itself

Time, technology, and adoption are creating IoT momentum.

Download a free copy of “Building a Hardware Business,” a curated collection of chapters from our IoT library. Editor’s note: this post is an excerpt from “Enterprise IoT: Strategies and Best Practices for Connected Products and Services,” by Dirk Slama, Frank Puhlmann, Jim Morrish, and Rishi M. Bhatnagar, which is included in the curated collection.

If you did a Google search for “IoT” in 2012, the top results would have included “Illuminates of Thanateros” and “International Oceanic Travel Organization.” A search for “Internet of Things” would have produced a results page with a list of academic papers at the top, but with no advertisements — a strong indicator, if ever there was one, that in 2012, few people spent marketing dollars on the IoT. Two years on, and this had changed dramatically. In 2014, the IoT was one of the most hyped buzzwords in the IT industry. IT analysts everywhere tried to outdo each other’s growth projections for 2020, from Cisco’s 50 billion connected devices to Gartner’s economic value add of $1.9 trillion.

Until we have reached this point in the future, no one can tell just how realistic these predictions are. However, the excitement generated around these growth numbers is significant, not least because it highlights a general industry trend, while also creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. We saw something similar happening with the auctioning of new mobile spectrum in the early 2000s. Literally billions were invested in the mobile Internet. And although it took longer than expected (remember the WAP protocol?), the mobile Internet eventually took off with the launch of Apple’s iPhone, and has since exceeded market expectations.

Meanwhile, Google — another major player in the mobile Internet sphere — has bet heavily on the IoT with its acquisition of Nest and Nest’s subsequent acquisition of DropCam. 2014 also saw many large IT vendors, such as PTC with its acquisitions of ThingWorx and Axeda, pushing themselves into pole position in the race for IoT supremacy. On the industry side of things, many central European manufacturers and engineering companies rallied around the Industry 4.0 initiative, which promotes the use of IoT concepts in manufacturing. GE heavily promoted the Industrial Internet and spearheaded the establishment of the Industrial Internet Consortium. Many industrial companies began implementing IT strategies and launching IoT pilot programs. And slowly, the first real results emerged. Read more…

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Guidance for startup CEOs in the hot seat

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Dan Shapiro on his new book Hot Seat, startup co-founders, and imposter syndrome.

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Subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast to track the technologies and people that will shape our world in the years to come.

In this episode of the O’Reilly Radar Podcast, I chat with Dan Shapiro, author and CEO of Glowforge, about his new book Hot Seat: The Startup CEO Guidebook, why startups need co-founders, and why startups are hotbeds for imposter syndrome (and why that’s OK). He also talks a bit about his new endeavor, Glowforge, and how it’s different from other startups he’s launched.

Shapiro explained that the target audience for the book isn’t limited to startup CEOs — in fact, he noted, it’s quite the opposite. “The audience that I’m really excited about getting to see this is everybody who’s not the startup CEO,” he told me. This would include everyone else in the startup ecosystem: co-founders, employees working at a startup, and people employed at big companies who are thinking about taking the leap to found their own startups. He said he wrote this book for “people who are on the cusp or who are touching or who are thinking about that role, either directly or indirectly” — he wrote the book he’d wished he’d had when he started out:

The thing that I wished I’d had in my startup experience — and was always missing — was the honest and unfiltered look at the earliest days of a startup. That was not just, ‘here’s some advice,’ because advice is plentiful and mostly wrong, but real experiences of the stuff that happens. My personal experience, I’m on my fourth or fifth company now, depending on how you count, was that, especially in my first and second companies, I was going through misery and suffering and had these terrible problems. I thought I was the only one who did. I was ashamed to talk about them because everybody else seemed like everything was great and sunny, and I was like, ‘Wow, if my co-founders and I can’t get along, how am I even fit to think about running a company, or shouldn’t we just give up now.’

It was only years later that I realized that almost every set of co-founders has problems and has trouble getting along and runs into issues, and that’s okay. That there are techniques for dealing with that and this is actually really common; it’s just that people are ashamed to talk about it. I wanted to write the book that took lots of peoples’ stories and put them together in the context of, ‘look, startups involve a lot of highs, which there is no shortage of to read about in the press, but a lot of lows as well’ and those are not as often talked about; to talk about some of the experiences of those lows, and strategies for dealing with them.

Read more…

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Mining the value of the IoT

Michael Chui on the hidden value locked within the Internet of Things.

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Save 25% on registration for Solid with code SLD25. Solid is our conference on the convergence of software and hardware, and the Internet of Things.

Jon Bruner and Dr. Michael Chui recently discussed Chui’s latest research on the Internet of Things as part of our IoT Profiles Series. A full recording of their conversation is embedded at the end of this post—and it’s well worth watching—but here’s a look at a few key points that were made. Chui will expand on these ideas and debut his new report during his session, “Beyond the hype; Mining the value of the IoT,” at the upcoming O’Reilly Solid Conference (June 23-25 in San Francisco).

Comparing B2B and consumer applications

A lot of the hype surrounding the IoT is centered around consumer products, and while Chui sees tremendous value in the consumer arena, the business-to-business (B2B) market holds particular promise. “There’s double the amount of value in B2B applications as there are in consumer applications,” he says. The value, he says, “is in logistics and manufacturing and many of those applications.”

Even in consumer applications, he adds, B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) applications can multiply value. ”When, in fact, the consumer health care health monitor can be connected to my provider, to my doctor, and have that continuous stream of health data actually connect up to the professional health care system, that’s where we think a lot of value can be created.” [Discussed at the 5:08 mark.] Read more…

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An introduction to immutable infrastructure

Why you should stop managing infrastructure and start really programming it.

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Immutable infrastructure (II) provides stability, efficiency, and fidelity to your applications through automation and the use of successful patterns from programming. No rigorous or standardized definition of immutable infrastructure exists yet, but the basic idea is that you create and operate your infrastructure using the programming concept of immutability: once you instantiate something, you never change it. Instead, you replace it with another instance to make changes or ensure proper behavior.

Chad Fowler coined the term “immutable infrastructure” in a 2013 blog post, “Trash Your Servers and Burn Your Code: Immutable Infrastructure and Disposable Components,” but others have spoken about similar ideas. Martin Fowler described phoenix servers in 2012. Greg Orzell, James Carr, Kief Morris, and Ben Butler-Cole, to name a few, have contributed significant thought and work as well.

II requires full automation of your runtime environment. This is only possible in compute environments that have an API over all aspects of configuration and monitoring. Therefore, II can be fully realized only in true cloud environments. It is possible to realize some benefits of II with partial implementations, but the true benefits of efficiency and resiliency are realized with thorough implementation.

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Defining front-end architecture

Raising the banner for a new discipline.

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In this excerpt taken from the upcoming book, Front-End Architecture: A Modern Blueprint for Scalable and Sustainable Design Systems, Micah Godbolt details the history of this new discipline and explains why it is such a vital role to embrace in our industry.

With the evolution of the web came changes to the roles of the modern web team. We went from a small group of generalist webmasters to a team of talented specialists. As each of these specialties developed, and members became more proficient in them, the web began to form a new set of roles… or disciplines.

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