How Pachube Killed the Big, Slow Firms

by Bruce Kasanoff on December 6, 2011

“Dad, what happened to all the big companies?”

Ralph looked down at his 3rd grade son, Dan. They were waiting on a subway platform and had 103 seconds before the F train pulled in. They were perfectly positioned to board the third car, where the temperature was a perfect 70 degrees and plenty of seats were available.

“You mean like HP, GE and Citigroup?”

Dan shrugged. “I dunno. My teacher says companies used to have hundreds of thousands of employees, and they used to be really, really slow to change.”

“That’s true,” said Ralph. He thought for a second, noticing the data feed running across his glasses. 72 seconds. “I guess they got Pachubed. Too much innovation, too fast.”

Dan looked confused. “How could Pachube hurt anyone? It’s just an easy way to know stuff.”

Just. Ralph smiled. Pachube had unleashed a torrent of data collected by billions, perhap trillions, of sensors. It let anyone with a little knowledge and initiative put data to use, sharing it, powering apps, making life easier.

Pachube powered the train updates, the temperature data, and the capacity reports he was using at that moment. It leveled the field between smart 12-year-olds and massive companies who couldn’t break the logjam between warring factions and bureaucratic inertia.

“Dan, Pachube made information available to anyone who needed it. Before Pachube, a few big companies kept knowledge locked up in computers that even they had a hard time using.”

The third grader shuffled his feet. “Even Jimmy Marin isn’t dumb enough to do that.”

They could hear the F train rounding the last turn before the station. “Information used to be power. People hoarded it.”

Dan frowned. “What does hoard mean?”

“They kept it for themselves. They charged too much money for information. They made life miserable. Even two years ago, we couldn’t know in advance that car three is 70 degrees and car four is 82,” explained Ralph.

The train stopped in front of them. “When we get home,” vowed the boy, “I’m going to plug in a few more data feeds from Pachube. We don’t want the old, slow companies to come back.”

Subscribe to Now Possible stories in a reader

Thanks to David Furlow for the tip about Pachube (“patch-bay”), which connects people to devices, applications, and the Internet of Things.

Previous post:

Next post: