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Evolution of Electricity

I’m officially obsessed with the TED talks website. For those of you who don’t know, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a conference held once a year to bring the best minds in the fields above together. It’s mission is simple: Spreading Ideas. Every year they get some of the best minds together and have them speak. They record every speaker and have 100’s of past talks posted on their website, which I’ve become obsessed with recently.

I really enjoyed a speech given by Amazon’s visionary Founder, Jeff Bezos in which he compares the state of the internet industry today to that of the electric appliance industry of 1916. I couldn’t agree more.

I went to Thomas Edison’s Ft. Myers home about 3 years ago, and I remember having this very same thought as I walked through his workshop with his scattered impressive collection of inventions. I couldn’t help but notice that at that time electricity was seen really as only useful for lighting and some heating. All the wiring and infrastructure that went into place was designed to deliver electricity just to do these two functions. In fact (as you’ll see in the video) the first electric appliances plugged into the grid with plugs that were nothing more than light bulb sockets. These first generic electric appliances were merely an indicator of things to come, a true unlocking of the power and versatility of electricity.

Interestingly enough the internet’s story is very similar to that of electricity. It runs through a wire to our homes, but is unable to offer any value until we actually plug into it. It was started really to create a communication network between computers, then built out to facilitate communication between people, and has exploded to facilitate self expression, commerce, and information sharing. But we’ve really only begun plugging our first appliance’s light socket plugs into the grid. Just as electricity’s infrastructure enabled a universe of appliances that bettered our lives (from the A/C to TV, to the computer and internet itself), so too will the very young internet infrastructure.

I’ve heard people say that all the good ideas are taken and the “gold rush,” is over. I’d say, we’ve only just begun. Exciting times ahead.

Check out the video.

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