Blake Ross & Parakey

“If Ross’s mom can’t do something as basic as share her recipes or ­photos with her future grandchildren online, then she gets left behind. In the 21st century, this sort of information isn’t passed on at the Thanksgiving table anymore. It’s communicated through the Internet. So without something like Parakey, there’s a chance it’s not going to outlive the baby-boom generation.” —David Kushner on Ross Blake’s vision for Parakey

What Blake Ross has in mind with Parakey, leveling the playing field between what futurists call immigrants to the land of new media and the natives, is the first application I’ve read about in a while that has made me genuinely excited.

A genuine (and really usable) online UI seems like the holy grail at the moment, since it will bring together the two worlds many of us now inhabit. I don’t know if Parakey will work, or if it will be to the technological world what the Segway was to transportation. Surely you remember the furor surrounding the release of “IT” aka “Ginger.” One early tester (a certain Steve Jobs) said, “If enough people see the machine you won’t have to convince them to architect cities around it. It’ll just happen.” But when the inventor finally unveiled it, well, many went, “Oh” not “WOW!” Five years later, Dean Kamen’s company has sold less than 25K of the “personal transporter.”Hopefully, Parakey will fare better. From my perspective, it doesn’t hurt that Ross’s goal (summarized above) lines up with the 12 values for technology innovation I have mentioned. It’s ‘mission-driven’ innovation, for lack of a better term, and Ross seems genuinely interested in improving quality of life. It might actually promise a ‘second life’ online, as opposed to the pale imitation of life that’s become the “IT” thing of IT.

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