Eight Years (that’s Two-cubed) of Observations
By Jim Lyons
November 2013 Observations
For some time, I have been pointed towards this column as one of significance, and not exactly because it represents a “round” number. My November 2013 Observations is Number 96 in my series of monthly posts which began in December, 2005, just after I had left 25 years in the employment of Hewlett Packard, most of those in the imaging and printing business, and most of those associated directly with the LaserJet product line.
And in re-thinking the round-numbered-ness of eight years (as opposed to the more obvious ten), perhaps it’s a change in my thinking, and seeing the beauty and symmetry of two-to-the-third power (the first and second of the prime numbers after all) signified by eight years. My recent and I might add successful completion of Stanford Math Professor Keith Devlin’s “MOOC” (Massively Open Online Course) no doubt has something of an impact. You might recognize Dr. Devlin as the “Math Guy” on NPR’s Weekend Edition, my first encounter with him, but his “Introduction to Mathematical Thinking”, taken through Coursera.com, is a great online course that exercised my mind and truly gave me new perspectives on logic and language.
In that original Observations, I played off my final days at HP and discovering some ten-year-old Hard Copy Observers (dating to the end of 1995). In “Observations: Hard Copy Time Capsule”, I played up some of the obvious differences a decade makes in a technology-based business like ours. This included, in 1995, the “newness” of multifunction machines, shifting tides in the channel and trade show worlds, and the lack of presence (in a commercial, mass market sense anyway) of things now taken as so basic such as digital photography and the internet. This ran in the December 2005 issue of The Hard Copy Observer (HCO), and was intended as a one-time, “guest editorial” feature.
But thanks to the encouragement of Lyra Research and HCO founder Charles LeCompte, and HCO managing editor Ann Priede, it became a monthly feature, and also led to other writing and analysis opportunities, both with Lyra and then the Photizo Group, in two different stints for me, the second coming when Photizo acquired Lyra in early 2012. And the connections made via the column, as well as its “frequency and reach”, has led to opportunities to cover as well as occasionally consult for a wide range of industry participants, which continues today.
The blog “Jim Lyons Observations” didn’t actually come into being until March 2006, but the posts, starting with that premier “Time Capsule” piece, were immediately put up online – a move which came thanks to my publishing-industry-oriented, young-adult children, who advised establishing ownership of my by-lined material via a second, personally-owned “publication”. But the blog soon become more than a legal entity, with more than 700 other posts since, to go with my (now) 96 monthly observations.
That pace of blog posting, by the way, has slackened off considerably over recent years, replaced for the most part, content-wise, by my frequent tweets. Though these “micro-blog” Twitter entries (now over 20,000) run the gamut with only a portion of them dedicated to printing and imaging, they appear as part of the “look” of my current blog (see above). In the blending of personal and professional worlds, my followers also find out about my among other topics , my sporting interests, photography efforts (often via linked Instagram and Foursquare posts), sense of humor, and recent fascination with mobile technology and its latest wearable iteration, personally experienced by my being a Google Glass Explorer.
And I would be negligent in rounding up my social media activity without including LinkedIn – a valued business tool which I use virtually every day, with much activity directed to keeping up with people in our industry, both from their past lives as well as current activities. When working on “Observations” I frequently seek out or “get to know” industry players via their LinkedIn profiles, often leading to in-person interviews and/or email correspondence.
So with my emphasis in column #1 on industry changes over the previous ten years, what about the span of the last eight? In that 2005 column, I offered that, “The Internet boom, bust, and rebirth all were in the future in 1995, as were digital cameras, MFPs or all-in-ones, Yahoo, Amazon, Google, Napster, iTunes, MP3s, blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, and so forth.” (As previously mentioned, while some of these were in existence, they had not reached wide recognition.)
This time around, I only need to look back on the paragraphs above, to find MOOCs, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Google Glass mentioned – each were virtually if not totally unknown in 2005. And that doesn’t even get into iPhones, iPads, Chromebooks, and Anroids!
So without getting into more cliches (though “the more things change…” comes to mind), I would also like to thank, in addition to those already mentioned, the cast of thousands I’ve met along the way, as well as my current editors and publisher (including the current home for Jim Lyons Observations) at 1105 Media, Larry Barrett, Amy Weiss and Patricia Ames – great folks who I can’t wait to meet up with again face-to-face at the upcoming Business Imaging Expo in Las Vegas!