This article was originally published in my weekly IoT newsletter on Friday August 18, 2023. It was my last newsletter.
Most of y’all know that I am stepping back from producing the weekly Internet of Things podcast, and that I’m also stepping back from creating this newsletter focused on the internet of things. But it is not a true goodbye. I will keep posting on Bluesky and will likely send out the occasional newsletter when I feel strongly about something.
Before I say anything further about why I’m doing this, or my next steps, I want to offer a sincere thank-you to everyone who reads the newsletter or listens to the podcast. I started this business in 2016 after leaving my role as senior editor at Fortune, and many people questioned my decision to leave an established publication to create my own.
But I wanted to really dig into the issues that would arise when we added computing to everything, be it technological or social. Thousands of y’all joined me, and without you and our sponsors I would never have been able to make this work. I am exceedingly lucky to have been able to do this, and it’s all thanks to you giving me your time and your stories.
I am truly grateful.
Like I said, this isn’t necessarily goodbye. You may find a blog post or two from me over at the Consumer Reports Innovation Lab, and it’s possible I’ll freelance for other publications in the near future. But ultimately I’m trying to take a break from the life of a journalist after more than two decades spent focused on daily and immediate news, with only a bit of time to dig into the bigger picture and long-term implications of the products and innovations I so relentlessly tout.
And yet, I think often of the larger implications of IoT everywhere. Even when I started covering the smart home in 2012 I knew that those devices added complexity to a user’s life along with the potential risk of government or corporate surveillance. And as devices launched and folded, it became increasingly clear that the business model of connected items was toggling between pricey subscriptions and rampant data grabs.
Meanwhile, outside the home, new technologies were being used to monitor employees and push them to their absolute limits while optimizing mostly for the bottom line. The latest focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) actions by corporations has led to businesses making investments in technology for carbon reduction and efficiency, but it feels like too little, or a way to greenwash activities that we shouldn’t be doing in the first place.
I love technology. And I fundamentally believe that people who are trying to solve problems with new technological innovations can make a difference. But I’m burned out, and increasingly cynical when it comes to new startups or research. That prevents me from getting excited about the truly good ideas out there.
So I’m stepping back. With a little bit of a break, maybe I’ll get excited about technology and human ingenuity again. Maybe I’ll see stories that I cannot wait to explain and share with everyone. In the meantime, I’m working on a few personal projects, including taking on a consulting role with Consumer Reports’ Innovation Lab to focus on cybersecurity and privacy issues associated with connected devices.
So I will still be eager to hear from y’all about your experiences, and will be reaching out to many of you to talk about how we can make connected devices safer, more secure, and better for everyone. Please keep in touch by emailing me at [email protected].