Tim O’Reilly Eloquently Explains How Tech Trends Happen

April 22, 2014

2:00 pm

Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, is currently answering questions about the Internet of Things in a Reddit AMA, a sort of open town hall. 

The Internet of Things refers to Internet-connected devices, sensors, and everyday objects that can send and receive data. Think of the Nest thermostat, which learns your temperature preferences and was acquired by Google in January. 

Someone wanted to know: what’s driving the Internet of Things movement? Why now? O’Reilly replied with an elegant explanation of how movements happen:

“I think it’s a ‘perfect storm.’ Yes, there are lots of new sensors everywhere (especially in our phones – don’t make the mistake of thinking that IoT requires new devices – the phone can be one important half of the system). And yes, the maker movement has gotten people excited about hardware again. And yes, the big data infrastructure is in place to make use of the sensor data for useful applications.

But it’s also a bit of what George Soros calls ‘reflexive truth.’ Things become true to the extent people believe in them. And movements in technology are like that: self-reinforcing waves, where one success draws imitators. So it starts with makers doing it for love, but the investors and entrepreneurs pile on when they see an exit for a MakerBot, or a Tesla, or a Nest.”

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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