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Can a Gadget Blog Be about Ideas?

Watch this space to find out.
November 15, 2010

Hi there! I’m John Pavlus, and over the next two weeks, I’m going to try to write a gadget blog that I – and, god willing, you – would actually want to read.

Batman’s tech interests do not include Foursquare. Mine either. [via chickslovethecar.com]

What do I mean by that? After all, I love Gizmodo and Techmeme just as much as the next geek. But Technology Review marches to a different beat than the daily tech press. As my friend and co-blogger Christopher Mims memorably put it, TR’s beat is “further up the pipeline”: innovation in the Big Idea phase, which necessarily precedes the “ZOMG new iOS update” phase. So yes, I do like browsing, surfing, and scanning the constantly-refreshed goodies on daily tech blogs. But I like to read Tech Review.

So what kind of stuff will you find here? Innovative consumer technology, definitely. But the fact that some new gadget exists won’t be enough to get me blogging about it. There’s going to have to be some idea behind the thing that isn’t terribly obvious or incremental, and gets me curious. Why is it necessary? What problem is it solving, and how?

To that end, I’ll also be blogging about innovative “gadgets” that you’ll never be able to buy. Medical devices. Military materiel. Infrastructure improvements. Crisis-response gear. Educational aids. Laboratory equipment. Because let’s face it: not all interesting problems in the world are solved by stuff sold on Amazon. But if it’s a new tool that someone needs/builds/uses to solve a real-world problem in some new way, I’m gonna get curious. In fact, if you see some tech out there that gets you curious, you should tip me off to it.

So why are we calling this blog TechSpecs? Products, gadgets, prototypes, jury-rigged hacks, techno-stuff: it all comes from someone, somewhere, saying “I need a thing that does this but not that.” Those this’s and that’s are called specifications. You know, the gobbledygook that you usually skip in favor of the fun stuff. (I do too.) But here’s the thing: that’s where the ideas are. The hows and whys behind the whats. That’s innovation: Sometimes it just needs a translator.

So, stick around and with luck, I’ll actually live up to that tall $#&*ing order I just laid out for myself.

Oh, one more thing: Do you like that name, TechSpecs? I do, but I like “Up The Pipeline” almost as much. Tell me (on Twitter, via email, or in the comments) which blog title you’d rather see in your newsreader every day, and I’ll let the mob rule.

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