I hope that you find the new progress page useful! The page does not include dates or deadlines due to our Teal approach: if schedule is your control variable, quality will suffer. As you might expect from us, quality is our preferred control variable.
The recipe for tonight's post has a helping of infrastructure with a pinch of longevity.
Floppy Disk Plus 486 Equals?
What would the computing landscape look like today if advances in semiconductor manufacturing proceeded at a snail’s pace? What if the “never fast enough” mantra for computing was replaced by “too expensive to replace?”
When is the last time that you saw a software company ship a product on floppy disk?
Can you still purchase a compiler that optimizes for a 486?
One of these questions is rhetorical, two are not.
Aside from profiteering, there is no technical reason that we could not keep PCs that are 20-25 years old in useful service. They absolutely would not be decoding HD video or playing the latest games.
But they could write blog posts. They could create documents and run spreadsheets with simple calculations. They can serve as educational tools.
If you go further back than 25 years, you would find printed circuit boards that carry through-hole components. Components that could be troubleshooted and replaced individually. Talk about an educational experience!
If a $1,000 machine cost $100,000 in this alternate reality, I can guarantee you that there would be widespread floppy disks, the equivalents of 486s, and plenty of replaceable parts. And there would be a lot less e-waste.
Of course, there are retro-computing enthusiasts who keep their floppy disks in pristine, working order. Their 486s are hard at work. They are an extreme minority. New software is occasionally released by these enthusiasts, compiled by contemporaneous software tools.
The hardware and software infrastructure moved on and official support for the old technology evaporated. Infrastructure moved on because there was no economic barrier to do so. Unfortunately, our natural environment – this planet – is not tied to the economy. The economy is an artificial construct, and we increasingly see the environmental damage that results from the pursuit of a single bottom line.
Consideration of infrastructure is baked into Shift Sight and Jade. Jade is being designed to not require infrastructure any more than traditional hobbies. Shift Sight will unquestionably support and stand behind its products, but our products-in-development will be able to stand without us.
There is also an important point here. As Jade is a tool for learning, creative exploration, and engineering, you will ultimately provide the infrastructure for building durable devices. We supply the tool, and you create the future that you want to see. This is a core piece of our long-term strategy.
I have previously written that Jade incorporates Montessori principles and ideals. Usually, the latest technology and Montessori are diametrically opposed [and for good reason].
Jade is absolutely unique, and Montessori is what makes it possible. I do not plan to mirror the current market and create product packaging that says “__ hours of learning and fun.” Would you buy a paintbrush whose package states “16 hours of fun” or purchase a basketball that is good for “32 hours of coordination development?”
Of course not.
Unlike most technology, Montessori materials do not have an expiry date. Neither does Jade.
Existing edtech products attempt to control the child’s actions. Put this here, build that thing, snap this other thing together. Did the child learn something? Sure. But once the kit or experiment is built, the range of activities is limited, hinged on the product’s ability to generate extrinsic rewards – lights and sounds. The excitement fades and disappears as the light and sound becomes familiar.
And then, the company in question sells another add-on with new lights and new sounds. Profiteering and e-waste abound.
Jade’s approach is to control the child’s circumstances. This sounds like a subtle difference compared to the above, but it is substantial. This approach does not prime expectations, reward, or punish. It generates excitement through personal discovery in a carefully prepared environment.
Some children will find the experience with Jade as exhilarating as you find rock-climbing. The child is in control of their immediate experience, self-directing how and what they learn while receiving real-time feedback on their actions and outcomes.
The experience is as unique as you or your child and will guide them as they develop their interests.
Jade is being purpose-built to change the world. Your children deserve no less.
See you next week!
Ty is a Founder of Shift Sight, LLC.