Episode 93 – When Tech Gets Boring, It Gets Interesting

In this episode of The PE Geek podcast I share why its important for technology to become ‘boring’ before it really gets interesting. While this statement might seem rather strange, its become obvious to be that the real impact only happens when we move from ‘cutting edge’ to what could be seen as nothing but ‘boring’.

Press play to listen to the episode below or listen here. Alternatively, download a full episode transcript here


[00:00:28] Jarrod Robinson: Hello everyone and welcome to episode number 93 of the PE Geek podcast and as always it is an absolute pleasure to have you here. Now, if you’re joining us for the first time an extra special welcome. This show is all about technology, physical education and how you can leverage and utilize it in your classroom whether that’s for your students’ benefit or your own benefit. We’re going to cover it all. And it certainly is something we’re passionate about


but more importantly than just passion we actually practice what we do and we’ve been doing that for such a long period of time now that we’ve learned a lot of things along the way, so we share them in this episode and in our other episodes. And sometimes the podcast is just me talking, like this one will be, but other times it will be people that I bring on who are doing things in their practice that they’d like to share. And if you’re listening and you’re doing something and you think you know what that is something that you might be willing to share


regardless of how big or small you think that thing is I want to share it because I get lots of emails from people who say that just one little thing that they heard in an episode or read in a podcast has changed the game for them. To give you one example, I had an email just recently from someone who heard one app that we mentioned in one podcast and that was Team Shake. Now, Team Shake is an app that I love obviously but in terms of what that


episode was about it wasn’t really about, it wasn’t really about Team Shake but that name just sort of popped up and it’s gone on to change things for the positive in her class by solving a real problem. So, although it might seem like something insignificant we want to share it. So, get it in touch with me if you have something to share and I’d love to get on, talk about what you’re doing, where you’re at, and all the different things that make up your day to day.

Now, in today’s episode I’m going to be sharing something that I think


might be a little bit controversial but in many ways it’s the absolute epitome of why technology has an impact. But it’s a little bit counter-intuitive because I firmly believe that when tech gets boring it actually is when it gets interesting. And that’s, that might seem disingenuous like because obviously I’m all about technology and I get excited about it and I author a website and I fly around the planet talking about


  1. But, really all of that and the stuff that we’re talking about and then we run our workshops about ties to technology which I would argue has become boring and that technology and the fact that it’s boring is actually part of the reason why it’s successful. So, in this episode I’m going to break down what I mean by this in more detail and then just give you a couple of other examples around this idea of boring and innovation and why we should


really be trying to have technology become boring in our practice.

Now, if you’ve followed this website at any stage you’ll probably know that I’m a massive fan of technologies and I’ve always been a fan. I’ve shared the stories numerous times around my own personal interest and how that led to teaching and I just love it, I love having the new tech tools, I love trying them, I love seeing how they work. It’s just, it’s just a personal interest


to learn things that are in this realm. And I think that is quite fun. The pursuit of learning these things. However, I’m going to be the first to say that most of the time the things that we might be talking about or that I could talk about on the blog are very much early adopter stage technologies. And this is probably very prevalent and very obvious in the earliest blog posts that we did, so around the 2009


2010 point we were sharing things that if I look back at now they never actually eventuated anyway. They were cool, they were innovative and we had some people that liked and enjoyed them but they were too exciting is what I’m probably trying to get at. But, if I look at it now there is in all likelihood a whole suite of technologies that have crossed that period of time


to being boring. And those are the technologies that I absolutely think have the most critical impact. And the technology that I think is absolutely boring these days and therefore powerful is none other than mobile technologies and mobile phones.

Now, the crazy thing about this is that in the early 2000s if you were to say use a phone or I had one


you might have had a Blackberry or a Nokia you very likely would have been an early adopter and people probably looked at you like you’re a little bit different and I’ll never use one of those things, like as if that’s something that you’ll ever need, that typical sort of thing. And as you know, now everyone has a phone and now everyone sort of benefits


from the use of these. It’s undeniable how powerful they are. We could talk for days around what they’ve been able to accomplish and achieve and the innovations that have come from that.

But, if you think about your mobile phone now and you went and presented it to someone in the street and said “hey, look at my phone,” most people would probably not be that excited by it. There might be some super nerds or super geeks like myself who might get really


excited about a new feature that lives on the phone and be excited about what that might mean. But for the most part if you went up to most people these days and said here’s my phone they’re probably not going to get that excited about it. But that is the exciting thing because at this stage now we can really start to look at how these things have impact and how they can change practice. We’ve reached a point where they’re so abundant, they’re so available,


the human capital is so invested in that particular technology that we can start to really innovate with what they make possible.

Now, this is really sort of made very clear by the Roger’s bell curve which is a study from like 1950 where they looked at innovation and the rate at which innovation happens and broke up the people who


are in society into different groups. And it really isn’t until you get to the end of the innovation curve that things start to really become quite powerful. But, we’re going through this all the time with new technologies.

At the very precipice, the very starting point of any new technology there’s going to be the innovators and they make up the smallest percentage of the population, so like 2.5% of the population will be considered innovators. And they’ll be the people like myself


because I love this stuff that will be utilizing these technologies that may never go anywhere but are exciting for them and all the bells and whistles and interesting. This whole website has been based on the fact that I liked to worked in that innovative zone and be trying new things and just document about them.

And the next group of people are the people who learn from the innovators and then start to leverage


as early adopters in their lives. And this is very clear in the website that I run too. So, obviously there was innovators and people in the smallest percentage of the audience trying things and innovating and then there was people who started to learn from those early adopters and if I look back to my earliest posts there were people who started to learn from and copy the things that we were doing on our site.

And that goes for mobile phones too. If you think about the


earliest phones and the innovator category, small group of people had them. And then we got the early adopters and the early adopters sort of were like the Nokia and android period of the, Nokia and sorry Blackberry period of time where most, not most people but a lot of people were starting to get sort of understand it.

But then the next period is where 34% of people in the early majority appear. And this is what Apple did incredibly well. They,


in the iPhone game, they came into being for and made a solution for the early majority. So it wasn’t the innovators that they were building their service for, it wasn’t the early adopters, they focused their time and attention on the early majority which make up like 34% in this particular equation. And we know what happened, it become the biggest and most expensive company in the world, they’ve gone on to


radically change how we view being able to be connected wherever we are. And it’s because they understand this bell curve and they understand what it means and understand how it translate into business sense.

But for us as educators we should understand this too because as we’re assessing a new technology we should be looking at it in correlation to this bell curve and thinking if we’re in the innovator zone and we’re truly at that stage of the equation,


it’s probably in all likelihood from a global prospect and from an education on a wider scale probably not going to amount to much at all. It’s not until you get into the later parts that and we have abundance with that technology that it becomes exciting.

So, after the early majority we move into the late majority which also is 34%. So, like 60 plus percent of society fit into this early majority, late majority


bracket. And it’s not until they really get access to whatever that technology is that we reach above 75% of the population or even more and things become possible, things become exciting and things become real. And I’ve seen this myself with the content that we have written about on this blog and the stuff that we’ve shared and the workshops that we do. They sort of came into being at the same


time as the early majority were starting to get into the mindset of I’ve got a mobile device how can I make use of that in our practice. So, it had a real impact and only sort of then was it possible for us to talk about how it could be used for positive.

Now, the last group of people, the laggards, and that’s the term used in the study, it’s not my term and they make up 16%, they’re usually much more conservative


and less educated. And they are a bit more harder to move into a new technology. But, the thing is that when they’re in the, when they start adopting and start utilizing it’s very easy to say that that technology has reached a point in time where it isn’t seen as exciting and innovative anymore, it’s truly boring. And I would say that’s where we are with mobile technology at the moment, mobile devices and tablets and so on. We’ve gone through the


innovators, early adopters, early majority and we’ve gone past the late majority and we’ve still got the laggards that might be starting to have a phone for the first time. But even then, they’re not that excited about it because everyone else in the planet already has it.

So, what’s the lesson with this curve? The lesson is that when you’re assessing technologies it’s very easy to get caught up in the early adopter mindset and the innovator mindset and think that whatever you’re doing is the, is going


to have it an tremendous impact on the situation. And, that can happen and it could, you could create something that has a lot of benefit to the students that you’re working with. But, from a much bigger perspective it’s far too early to talk about the impacts that that technology have until it reaches the late majority in that bell curve because up until then it’s still very exclusive, it’s still too exciting


for people.

So, as of recently I am applying the boring test to anything that I see. If I see a new technology rolling around and I think about how could I share this with the people on the site I’m really applying the boring filter. If I think it’s too exciting and too interesting to share I’m probably not going to share it because I just think that it is far too early for it to be of benefit. Although, in saying that I know that there’s


a particular group of people in my audience who absolutely are like me, they want to be the early adopters, they want to be the innovators, they want to be in that early majority. So there’s a balance between us sharing the most cutting edge things that we can come across and also ensuring that we actually share stuff that’s boring and has an impact.

So, I hope this episode’s been fascinating, I want you to think about the boring filter from now whenever you see


a new technology and you start to assess how valuable it could be. And I think you’ll come to quickly realize that the most boring things in our world are what really makes a difference when they reach scale and we’ve sort of moved on to the next thing. That thing can be in its world to do whatever it does.

I’m seeing it right now with the technology that is about to become boring, it’s not quite there yet, it’s in the early adopter or almost early adopter,


sorry it’s in the early majority phase or about to be and that is augmented reality. I spoke in a previous episode about it as technology to watch out for. I believe that fundamentally, I think it’s transform education and our world. But, it’s still really too exciting for that to happen. It’s still something that we look at and go wow, and amazing and that’s great because the innovators and the early adopters are driving it towards


being something that that early majority get on board with, but then in, as we move into that late majority it’s going to start to wear off and we’re going to start to be less impacted by its excited and how, what it does and that’s when real things, things will start to really happen.

So, the big progression through a technology going from the early adopter phase to the early minority is,


sorry, an event that makes that happen and Apple were the people that made that happen with iMobile devices and the invention of the iPhone. It’s undoubtedly true, it absolutely was them that made it happen and it looks like they’re going to be the people to make it happen for augmented reality as well. Next month they’re going to be releasing AR kit which is around about September of 2017 and when that’s released it’s going to make


augmented reality possible on every single smart phone that they already have rolled out into the world. And at that stage we’re going to become familiar with it and we’re going to become aware of it and it’s going to move towards the late majority and eventually the laggards and quickly become boring and that’s when things will get exciting.

So, let me know if you’ve been able to apply the boring test to anything in real life. If you’re at school and someone shares something with you think about,


think about it from this perspective and you’ll get some new clarity around technology and which things to go after. As always, if you want to see a full transcript of this episode then you can go to thepegeek.com/93 for episode 93.

And if you have any questions or anything that you would like to send my way there’s a few ways to do it. Probably the easiest way is to download the PE Geek app which you can get for iPhone and Android


and in that there’s a number of paths that you can use to communicate with me. And probably the coolest path is and here is a bit of a contradiction to what I’ve just spoken about, but the coolest path to communicate with me is the chatbot which is inside of the PE Geek app. The chatbot is an artificial intelligence driven chatbot that answers your questions and redirects you based on what you say.


And it is super cool. Don’t get me wrong it really is. But it also is a technology that is still in its very early days and going to be hugely disruptive. But it’s just too exciting for it to be of super benefit yet. When it gets boring and we just interact with a chatbot in an app without even thinking about it will be when things really start to progress. So, the boring test. Let’s of fun, let me know how you go. I look forward to seeing you in episode number 94.


Speak soon.


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