LoRa Phone & the Deconstruction Paradigm
It is easy to think the internet’s core paradigm is connectivity. If you look at the way the internet and every relevant new company has created their services and products one might observe that connectivity alone is just not enough. What about deconstruction?
Because of the focus on connectivity as a paradigm, many of our newer infrastructures and company structures are becoming obsolete too fast. Most industries have understood that there is money to be made with in future, but the process to sustainably get there is still a riddle for many. Communications and other consumer behaviour have atomised into thousands of apps and services. Long-tail and niche businesses are more valid than ever. MIT Tech Review just reported a further decline in average corporation lifespan amongst giants like HP being dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Index. It’s not just that classic companies have missed out on connecting. Products and services are breaking into smaller parts.
The market need has evolved but the product hasn’t, because the thinking hasn’t.
Connectivity can’t justify the success of the startup model, but deconstruction can. We have come a long way since Napster and Pirate Bay provided evidence that lean teams can create exponential impact with minimal investment compared to classic approaches. The startup as we know it today is basically a company deconstructed, oftentimes based on highly decentralised value creation or revenue models. This new efficiency can scale quicker a cheaper and is able to take deconstruct risk to avoid systemic failure.
The connectivity paradigm can’t explain value and success of ideas.
The failure of the connectivity paradigm is already having an economic impact. AT&T and others have started to sell the cell towers and assets they can no longer afford to maintain or own. The new Internet of Things and some of its Smart City projects require, in their current form, trillions to be built and maintained, which is unsustainable in most countries. SIM cards, the pieces of plastic and metal that lock our phones into single identities are an outdated concept when services like Google, Skype, Whatsapp, WeChat, Facebook, Slack, Email, etc. better represent our atomised communication behaviour. In a world where everyone’s communication is deconstructed into multiple apps and devices connectivity doesn’t describe the need for all of them.
As a manifestation of the deconstruction paradigm, I created the LoRa-gateway-phone pictured above.
LoRaWAN is a new type of Wifi. Just like mobiles, LoraWAN’s ‘cell towers’ (called gateways) are static. Amsterdam startup The Things Network, who’s Kickstarter campaign I had the pleasure to manage covered the whole of Amsterdam with only 12 LoRaWAN gateways! Gateways are currently about the size of your home router. Using a Moto Mods Z Dev Kit and a LoPy module seen in the photo, I created a functional mobile (TTN) LoRaWAN gateway on a phone, a cell tower in your pocket so to speak.
A deconstructive approach does not just improve performance and functionality like connectivity does, it affects the core dynamic of the product or service it impacts. A cell tower in your pocket would not just turn a few thousand cell towers into a few million phones. More people in the same location would create a denser and better network, rather than cell towers struggling with their limited number of people they can provide service to is another.
To clarify, I would not claim that the LoRa phone is the solution to the scenario described above. But a deconstructive approach can show better alternatives. Solutions like the one above are mesh networks and they do exist.
For some reason, we don’t use deconstructive thinking even though they provide superior solutions. Why does a tower block have an internet service contract with every apartment separately? The case of co-ownership has been made for transport as ‘Zero Ownership’, why not for more services and products? I am not talking sharing economy, I am talking distributing services that we are already using amongst us, but make them more powerful. Taxes work that way. I contribute to a pool and multiple services are created and maintained by that. But I can’t control what I am paying for and when. Today’s services could get us there if we apply deconstruction as a paradigm.
Deconstruction has been the vital factor everywhere. Digital did not change the entertainment industry by networking music, it was to deconstruct albums into individual files. Twitter and Facebook split conversations into timelines made out of individual content pieces, AirBnB didn’t connect hotels, it made rooms multi-functional and the same has been applied to offices in the form of co-working spaces or investment and purchasing in the form of crowdfunding. One of the most prominent and notorious examples is the resilience of the Pirate Bay service and the performance of BitTorrent that beats anything Netflix can provide. The TV industry is still struggling to deconstruct their channel paradigm. They are stuck. Have you heard about or ever seen PopcornTime? It’s BitTorrent applied to TV and movies. Unfortunately, it is illegal because it uses Pirate Bay content.
We are more connected than ever but unless we can deconstruct the old connected black boxes and processes of our economy and society, we are stuck with an inadequate paradigm.
Join the Deconstruction Paradigm, help open up thousands of new streams for opportunities.
Thank you for reading.
Marcus Kirsch, ResonanceDesign, London, UK
What do you think?
- Do you think connectivity and similar features are overrated?
- How does your company approach its ability to deconstruct for new opportunities?
- Do you think the LoRa phone should be on Kickstarter?
This article and the LoRa phone prototype are my theoretical and physical starting point for a book that will look back at my last 20 years in innovation, digital and explore the potential of the deconstruction paradigm in business and society.
The LoRa phone will be on its way to my friends at Yaler at the TTN community in Zurich, Switzerland and the book is being written in London, UK.
Please like and share, if you care…. :)