For some while I keep finding around me things related to Makers, Quadcopters, and algorithms. At first I thought that it is just by chance... That IoT is nice, and Makers are having fun, and algorithms are just another way of saying parallel programming and so on... Apparently there is something very unique that connects all these seemingly unrelated areas. You know, it takes a while to realize it, but: if everyone at work speaks Martian, and your barman speaks Martian, and you go back home and your wife speaks Martian, then you probably live on Mars!
When I visited IDF 14 I met a very nice and talented guy called Kevin.
Kevin explained to me in details how he built this model quadcopter connected to a custom made metal frame and the trouble that he had with the sliding housing for the quadcopter because painting it was a problem. When I asked him what's his profession he replied "Software engineer". I immediately told him that this does not make sense. All these things that he does have nothing to do with software. True, he did write the PC code and the Arduino code, but he also did all these other things on the way. He mentioned that he had some previous experience which was probably useful. At the time I thought to myself that it is a nice project with an interesting concept for a drone and IoT information management. The project was a simulation of a quadcopter flying over an oil pipe, collecting information from base stations. Intuitively I thought to my self that is does sound like Kevin is someone that Intel and Dell would want as a leader, even though it is not fully clear as to a leader of what...
Long story short. If you read my blog then you know that I have some idea about parallel programming and image processing algorithms. I have extensive background in electronics and some understanding of physics and what quadcopters can do.
Taking things more seriously, a couple of days ago I flew a helicopter for about an hour:
My wife took the back seat on this one...
Today I went to a lecture by Shai Goitein, the inventor of PowerUp Toys. It is always good to learn from experience, and always sounds good when the inventor himself builds the paper plane just for you:
They have a new product in about four months. Listening to his lecture and talking to him after the session got me thinking... and now I go back to the title of this blog post.
Here is the thing: I don't think that people buy Power Up 3.0 so that they could fly a plane. I think that people buy this toy for themselves and for their young kids so that they could build a plane. Think about it for a moment...
Old school says that you are supposed to have a degree in aviation before you can design a plane. The problem is that you also want to write embedded software, be a movie director, and be a chef. This is the opposite of old-school "be super professional". There is another culture today and at its base we find versatility. You can build a paper plane, be a pilot of a quadcopter, publish a short movie on YouTube, and buy mix-with-water powder to make great cookies.
True, your paper plane is not as good and your movie is not going to win an Oscar. So what?
Shai invented Power Up 3.0 (maybe 4.0 by the time you read this). In profession he worked for Kodak as an industrial designer. In order to have PowerUp 3.0 he had to understand in manufacturing, distribution, marketing, electronics, software, BLE, and many other things that he manages. Reminds me of Kevin and his quadcopter.
Actually when you think about it, the software industry often prefers C# over C++ and web over WPF. This is because we often prefer high productivity fast, even if this means that the product is less robust or "smart". This started before Y2K and it was called even back then by the name "Rapid" RAD tools - "Rapid Application Design". We want rapid.
When makers had to write embedded Firmware, the embedded community was very small. Now that we can use Arduino, suddenly there is a huge embedded community. This is because people can do Rapid firmware development instead of making firmware their main focus of life.
What IoT community is looking for is not more technology, it is more Rapid technology. Design an airplane in 20 seconds. Write firmware in a day. Build hardware in a day.
All this is going to make a huge shift in our understanding of product development and eventually we will see Makers take leadership positions in all R&D companies because there is a huge advantage in understanding the environment of your product and in being versatile in areas of technology.
In the community we can call these people Makers, but as they take leadership positions in the industry we will start describing them as multidisciplinary, meaning people who may come from marketing or hardware but they understand the larger scale and see the big picture very clearly.
Now look at all the strange success stories of programmers who lead a huge company or product designers who manage a hardware and software company. What's in common? Always was and will be multidisciplinary people who practice multi-paradigm development and management.
The only problem is that nobody will hire you if you say that you know everything. You wouldn't pass HR.
Very few investment companies will invest in one person who understands everything. Most of them would expect a team made of old-school pioneers, so that every person knows just one thing and together they cover everything.
That's fine. The instinct of a multidisciplinary entrepreneur is to do it out of pocket anyway because "I can manage" is what this kind of people usually say to themselves.
Let's go back to this five years from today. The industry will look different. Just as parallel programming was still rejected by most software developers 5 to 7 years ago.
What all this means is that if you are a multidisciplinary person and can find your way well into a new topic, you might be confusing for company HR and most people... Just remember that the big steps in technological evolution where made by people like you, who were not afraid of learning something new and practice it. Whenever someone tells you that a programmer can't do business or a sales person can't do hardware, just smile and nod and remember that there is a huge silent community behind you. Many times experience is more meaningful than a title.