New technologies offer promise and peril

New applications have the power to change how we live and work

I didn’t plan this as part of our cover story, but I recently bought a smart phone, so I’m having a first-hand experience with disruptive technologies.

So far, I have not been disappointed with my new phone, and my wife couldn’t be more entertained at my boyish enjoyment.

Soon after getting the phone, we went to the beach for a week. We didn’t have a tide chart, and we were wondering if the tide was going out or coming in. Within 30 seconds, I had a chart for the next week.

We were making plans for dinner, and I found photos of the menu from a restaurant review site so we could check out whether the seafood place had stuff the kids would eat.

Granted, those applications aren’t going to change the world. But the more I use the phone, the more I want it to do. I think of it not as a phone, but as an information tool — the same way I think of my laptop or desktop PC.

To me, that’s what makes it disruptive: It is changing how I do things, and I want it to do more.

Our cover story looks at five technologies and applications that are rapidly advancing in the market. One of the more interesting points is that it isn’t a single technology that is the disruptive force. It is more about how different technologies can be integrated and then delivered that makes them disruptive.

With the government’s mission, the stakes are much higher than whether I can find a restaurant menu. So we offer a word of caution. Look before you leap, and be careful. But the jump might be worth it. Above all else, look at your business case.

Now back to this killer game of "Pocket Tanks." I’m still stuck on Level 1.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

Reader Comments

Thu, Aug 5, 2010 Doug Hadden DC

There does not appear to be a logical connection between the consumer informaiton available via smartphone applications and dangers for government information. Seems like there is a paragraph missing - the one that describes the type of information that may or may not be dangerous to provide. You may be on to something about how smartphone usage may be setting expectations for government information.

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