Benefits of Membership
Please see our weekly newsletter collection below. Our own staff and members contribute bits and bytes of interesting news and articles. They say that futurists make funny historians but we do our best to bridge that divide by illustrating our past themes and speakers as they develop and evolve. We hope that you enjoy reading these communications as much as we enjoy creating them for you. And if you have any news to share, please contact any member of our staff.
U.S. Representative Steve Scalise is being treated at one of our members’ facilities, the Medstar Washington Hospital Center. We are grateful that he is getting the best care possible and we wish him all the best.
“ ‘Andre, you don’t really know us, but we’ve heard a lot about you, and we know you’re a brilliant engineer, and we want you to come work with us on a project we can’t tell you about. And we want you to do it now. Today.’ ” Read the secret history of the iPhone, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. (Benedict Evans, San Francisco, Dec 2015; Paul Stamatiou, Rome, Jul 2008).
(And if you, like Steven Cherry, stood on line to get your iPhone 1.0 the very first day, send him a note.)
Last week we pointed out that Marc Raibert and Rodolphe Gelin are now under one roof at Softbank. This week’s rumor mill includes a possible union between some other past speakers: a reported buyout of Slack (Bill Macaitis, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015) by Amazon (Kyle Roche, San Francisco, May 2016; Adam Selipsky, San Francisco, Feb 2010).
Speaking of Amazon, in the chess match between online and brick-and-mortar, digital wins when someone checks out an item in a store and then orders it online. Best Buy is now plotting one move ahead: Online, you sign up for a try-before-you-buy rental of that fitness tracker, camera, or other gadget, then go to the store to pick it up. If you decide to buy, you can keep that unit or take a new one. (Andreas Weigend, San Francisco, Feb 2017 and Feb 2005; Jeffrey Rayport, Washington, D.C., Sep 1998)
Of course, Amazon is not sitting on its hands waiting for you to click. In fact, it’s going whole-hog on brick-and-mortar with its $13B takeover of Whole Foods.
But have you visited any of Amazon’s new bookstores? The one in New York City is not getting great reviews. Is it less a store than a gallery “where the books are displayed rather than sold”? Or perhaps it’s simply, as another reviewer put it, “not built for people who actually read.”
Remember the 2012 Paint It Black Web protests over various legislation (PROTECT IP and the Stop Online Piracy Act? (Jeremie Zimmermann, Sascha Meinrath, and Rebecca MacKinnon, Washington, D.C., May 2012) (In all likelihood, you don’t remember the 1996 one over the Communications Decency Act that Steven Cherry helped spearhead.) Amazon, Kickstarter, Etsy, Reddit, and Mozilla are among the organizations banding together for a “day of action” on July 12 to protest proposed changes to net neutrality regulations. (David Reed, San Francisco, May 2016; Vint Cerf, Philadelphia, Apr 2006)
How secure are U.S. presidential communications when outside the White House? Maybe not very, according to a new report that found weakly encrypted Wi-Fi networks and other security holes. (Robert Cunningham, Washington, D.C., Sep 2016)
Member firm BMW’s i Venture arm and Generation Investment Management (founded by Al Gore) are leading another round of funding for electric bus developer Proterra. The company has sold 400 buses to date and has a test model that can run 600 miles between charges.
Chuck Thacker, who spoke on “NextGen Technologies for Portable Computing--Tablet PCs and Beyond” (San Diego, Nov 2002) passed away this week. He was best known for his role on the Xerox Alto, for which he won the 2004 Charles Stark Draper Prize together with Butler Lampson, Robert Taylor and our own Alan Kay, who said of Thacker in an email, “He was a truly amazing person besides being a great designer whose work changed the world.”
"The smartphone is a Skinner box for teenagers.”—Jonathan Taplin at Hyperconnected