Nineteenth century communications technology met the 21st century in a series of Twitter posts this week.
Farooq Butt, SVP of business development and strategy for over-the-air power startup WiTricity, posted a series of tweets and retweets this week that make great points about the history of technology and the lessons we can learn today.
The first tweet to cross my eye:
Reactions to the "tele-phone" from 1876 pic.twitter.com/YL7YP0r1DJ— Farooq Butt (@fmbutt) March 5, 2015
Viewing Butt's Twitter stream (on my "pocket tele-phone") I saw he'd been tweeting about innovation and the history of technology for days.
Here's Butt on luxury and disruption -- an intersection service providers and tech companies struggle with:
Disruption theory has huge gaps when it comes to anything you can use the word "luxury" with. Techies should understand this fact.— Farooq Butt (@fmbutt) March 4, 2015
Disruption theory fails: boats, executive jets, high end smartphones, nice cars, fancy audio equipment. All over-serve. None get disrupted.— Farooq Butt (@fmbutt) March 4, 2015
If you can make an "affordable luxury" like Starbucks, chances are you'll stave off disruption for a long time. Who does that in tech? Hmmm.— Farooq Butt (@fmbutt) March 4, 2015
If this were a classroom, my hand would be shooting in the air like Arnold Horshack's:
The tech company that understands affordable luxury is Apple -- and Apple's products drive considerable revenue for carriers.
Observation- techies often confuse "luxury" for "high performance". Massively different things. One prone to disruption, other not so much.— Farooq Butt (@fmbutt) March 4, 2015
Butt also tweeted about government shortsightedness in the face of technology innovation. It's nothing new:
Government's initial reaction to the miracle of the telegraph: pic.twitter.com/BwKTIhklfq— Farooq Butt (@fmbutt) March 5, 2015
And he retweeted a comment from 1979 that's even more relevant today in light of connected car innovations:
I interviewed Butt to find out more about the messages he was sending.
Butt says he's interested in the history of technology and innovation.
"People have had concerns throughout history that technology is going to make us all lose our humanity, it's going to make us lose our jobs," Butt says. "You can see that these fears have come to the surface and been repudiated every single time. Every time we have new technology, people rise up and say, 'This time it's different.' It's never that different."
I also asked Butt about his company. WiTricity uses magnetic fields to charge devices wirelessly, over the air. The company is working on applications that include mobile devices -- just hold them near a charging station to power up -- and electric cars that charge as soon as you drive them into the garage.
Just for the heck of it, two more of Butt's retweets:
Barely one part of this headline would have made any sense twenty years ago pic.twitter.com/iiV1pXnjRt— Daily Mail Comments (@BestoftheMail) March 4, 2015
And more Arnold Horshack, just because it's Friday: