27.05.2015 : Vaughan Robertson

Don’t be so down on my drone

Do we slow the adoption of new technology and reduce the benefits by focussing on failures and not on successes? I have been researching the commercial and innovative use of the new class of ‘Prosumer’ drones.

Do we slow the adoption of new technology and reduce the benefits by focussing on failures and not on successes? Why do the media leap to portray the dumbest, most ignorant, blindly unthinking Darwin Award candidates as early adopters of new technology?

I have been researching the commercial and innovative use of the new class of 'Prosumer' drones. These are typically small quadcoptors, 1-2kg in weight and carrying a payload of only a Go-Pro camera or similar lightweight capture device. These are now available at a price point that many individuals and SMBs can afford, and the potential applications are myriad.

The majority of the media articles I can find portray idiots at their best…. like the guard who crashed the drone into the Whitehouse; the bloke who flew his quadcoptor along the runway of a Turkish international airport – and then posted the footage online; or the Aussie who had his multi-thousand dollar machine swatted out of the air by a kangaroo he was filming….

Never mind that these drones are being used in fantastic new endeavours like Search and Rescue, carrying defibrillators to heart attack victims or monitoring the condition of power pylons in a far safer and more efficient manner than ever in the past. What we get to see is the accidents, the stupid users and the epic fails of the new toy.

Obviously there is a formula working here. We know that disaster makes a good story and that there is no greater attraction to media than the prospect of somebody making a fool of themselves. But ask yourself, what is the impact of this perspective?

Already we are overwhelmed by change and by the plethora of 'new stuff' coming at us. Already we are worried about how we can personally keep up with the 'millennials', the 'digital natives' or any other group who is defined as being more technology literate than us.

Adding to this angst is the prospect that of being portrayed as a fool, shown up as a failure, or being castigated in the workplace for wasting precious resources. There is an underlying unspoken (and sometimes spoken!) attitude of "Why are you wasting time on this… get on with your day job!"

It appears to reinforce the strategy of keeping ones head below the parapets rather than reaching for innovative and potentially disruptive opportunities.

In the working world, and on the sports field, we are often told that failure is a pre-requisite for success, that if you haven’t fallen over you haven’t pushed it hard enough. It's a pity that good copy defines pushing it hard enough as not newsworthy but pushing it too hard as worth broadcasting.

I'll tell you what. Let's make a deal. I'll celebrate your failures along with your successes… I'll talk about your grand plans and the steps you’ve made along the way… I'll make suggestions for how you might improve your thing – and if I don't have any to make, I'll congratulate you on taking the initiative anyway!

Instead of taking the mickey out of you for the hurdles you encounter, we'll follow Samuel Beckett's grand saying:

Ever Tried. Ever Failed. No Matter. Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better

That way we’ll all contribute to driving a positive attitude toward change rather than reinforce the fear of it.

How about it?

About the Author

Vaughan Robertson

Group Manager - Technology Strategy

Vaughan Robertson is Group Manager Technology Services in Beca's Group ICT team. He is responsible for coordinating and developing applications of new technologies, together with monitoring trends in ICT and assessing and communicating their impact on the business.

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Gretchen Seemann · 29/05/2015 12:38:54 p.m.
I saw a great use of a drone last night on the news - A cathedral in Christchurch had used drones to capture photos of the earthquake damage inside, instead of sending a person in. Now by using those photos the drone took, they have realised part of the cathedral is too damaged to repair but the main central part is repairable. So, I agree, its not all bad news.