Eight Years (That’s Two Cubed) of Observations

For some time, I have been pointed toward this column as one of significance, and not exactly because it represents a “round” number. My November 2013 Observations is No. 96 in my series of monthly posts which began in December 2005, just after I had concluded 25 years of employment with Hewlett Packard – most of those in the imaging and printing business, and most of those associated directly with the LaserJet product line.

And in rethinking the round-numberedness of eight years (as opposed to the more obvious 10) perhaps it’s a change in my thinking, seeing the beauty and symmetry of two to the third power (the first and second of the prime numbers, after all) signified by eight years.

My recent and I might add successful completion of Stanford Math Professor Keith Devlin’s “MOOC” (Massively Open Online Course) no doubt has had something of an impact. You might recognize Dr. Devlin as the “Math Guy” on NPR’s “Weekend Edition,” which was my first encounter with him. But his “Introduction to Mathematical Thinking” taken through Coursera.org is a great online course that exercised my mind and truly gave me new perspectives on logic and language.

In that original Observations entry eight years ago, I played off my final days at HP and some 10-year-old Hard Copy Observers (dating to the end of 1995). In “Observations: Hard Copy Time Capsule”, I played up some of the obvious differences a decade makes in a technology-based business like ours. This included, in 1995, the “newness” of multifunction machines, shifting tides in the channel and trade show worlds, and the lack of presence (in a commercial, mass-market sense, anyway) of things now taken as so basic, such as digital photography and the Internet. This ran in the December 2005 issue of The Hard Copy Observer (HCO) and was intended as a one-time “guest editorial” feature.

But thanks to the encouragement of Lyra Research – more specifically, HCO founder Charles LeCompte and HCO managing editor Ann Priede – it became a monthly feature that also led to other writing and analysis opportunities, both with Lyra and then the Photizo Group, in two different stints for me, the second coming when Photizo acquired Lyra in early 2012. And the connections made via the column as well as its “frequency and reach” has led to opportunities to cover as well as occasionally consult for a wide range of industry participants, which continues today.

The blog “Jim Lyons Observations” (JimLyonsObservations.blogspot.com) didn’t actually come into being until March 2006, but the posts, starting with that premier “Time Capsule” piece, were immediately put up online – a move which came thanks to my publishing-industry-oriented, young-adult children, who advised establishing ownership of my bylined material via a second, personally owned “publication.” But the blog soon became more than a legal entity, with more than 700 other posts to go with my 96 monthly “observations.”

That pace of blog posting, by the way, has slackened off considerably over recent years, replaced for the most part content-wise by my frequent tweets. Although these “micro-blog” Twitter entries (now over 20,000) run the gamut, with only a portion of them dedicated to printing and imaging, they appear as part of the “look” of my current blog. In the blending of personal and professional worlds, my followers also find out, among other topics, about my sporting interests, photography efforts (often via linked Instagram and Foursquare posts), sense of humor, and recent fascination with mobile technology and its latest wearable iteration, personally experienced by my being a Google Glass Explorer.

And I would be negligent in completely detailing my social media activity without including LinkedIn – a valued business tool which I use virtually every day, with most activity directed toward keeping up with people in our industry, both from their past lives as well as their current activities. When working on “Observations,” I frequently seek out or “get to know” industry players via their LinkedIn profiles, often leading to in-person interviews and/or email correspondence.

So with my emphasis in column No. 1 primarily on industry changes that occurred over the previous 10 years, what about discussing those that transpired over the span of the last eight? In that 2005 column, I offered that “the Internet boom, bust and rebirth all were in the future in 1995, as were digital cameras, MFPs or all-in-ones, Yahoo, Amazon, Google, Napster, iTunes, MP3s, blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, and so forth.” (As previously mentioned, while some of these were in existence, they had not reached wide recognition.)

This time around, I only need to look back on the paragraphs above to find MOOCs, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and Google Glass mentioned – each of which were virtually, if not totally, unknown in 2005. And that doesn’t even get into iPhones, iPads, Chromebooks and Androids!

So without getting into more cliches (though “the more things change … ” comes to mind), I would also like to thank, in addition to those already mentioned, the cast of thousands I’ve met along the way, as well as my current editors at 1105 Media, Larry Barrett and Amy Weiss, and Patricia Ames, the Office Technology Group’s publisher – great folks who I can’t wait to meet up with again face to face at the upcoming Business Imaging Expo in Las Vegas Dec. 10-12.

Jim Lyons

Jim Lyons has been writing, analyzing and blogging about industry developments since 2006. In his monthly Observations column he comments on business and marketing developments in the printing and imaging industry, combining many years of experience with an ever-enthusiastic eye on the future. In the Jim Lyons Observations column on The Imaging Channel, highlights from that blog appear monthly. Lyons is also a faculty member at the University of Phoenix, teaching marketing and economics at its school of business, and writes the “Goin’ Mobile” blog for Workflow online. Follow him on Twitter @jflyons and read more of Jim Lyons Observations at http://www.jimlyonsobservations.com/.

Posted on 12/11/2013