When I graduated in the eighties with a degree in physics and applied physics (where we spent glorious days on 6502 integer programming and bashing up the Apple space bar playing Space invaders and cracking Zork 1,2,3 and everything infocomm games were throwing at us); Instead of going to work for a large corporation, I chose to go into systems analysis. It was a new job title back then. It meant helping small companies automate, moving away from the typewriter. Every client I took on, I had to explain the power of converting their analogue systems – from letters to books of accounting ledgers to customer records – into data and databases. It might seem funny today but this was a world new to the PC, an object far larger than the typewriter, and a world only recently enamoured with the idea of being able to do backspace across a sentence. Slowly but surely, I converted them. They realised the power of information systems, being able to reuse and analyse the information on their invoices, letters, and anything they generated from their business. I wrote database programmes that helped them store, visualise, retrieve and use their data effectively for their businesses. I strung PCs together with serial cables so that they could share data. My company logo was F1 – for help – and would you believe it, I still have my old business card from 1988. This was the beginning of database systems that the likes of oracle and SAP would eventually dominate. Of course this technology was already available to the large corporations but the PC did this for millions of SMEs – the lifeblood of most economies and brought this world into a digital and Information Age and spurred the development of the connected digital age later.
Oddly enough, 30 years later and after 15 years an entrepreneur and 15 years as an academic in markets and value, here I am trying to do this again. But this time, the unit is not a firm. It is the person. It’s you and I. Again, I am trying persuade, this time persuading individuals, that the letters they receive, their bank statements, their health records and everything they generate would be really useful to them in their lives. And that they could usefully have a personal information and resource planning system of their own, that which we call HAT. Quite odd how things come a full circle.
We now stand at the cusp of an epic collision between the physical and the Internet Tron like world, what I refer to as the Internet jumping out of the box. It is at this juncture that we wish to attempt something quite revolutionary. To bring the individual back into the equation. To give us all a voice again and in so doing enable us to fully engage in the Internet-of -Things economy. By giving everyone of us a HAT, we hope to rebalance the Internet as a market. But to do so, we need to win hearts and minds. And with the dominant design of today’s data economy where we own nothing, this will be a challenging task indeed. And we are hunkering down for a long trek ahead. Having gone through the PC revolution and the Internet revolution, I hope to see a data revolution in my lifetime. Want to be ahead of the curve? Catch the video and Get yourself a HAT here