Plug evolution

Consider the speed at which the plugs and ports in your life are evolving, and the additional objects you feel compelled to carry with you to make use of those plugs while you’re out in the world. How often does travel between different countries, or switching between devices from different manufacturers, or convincing a manufacturer’s older devices to communicate with their new devices force you to somehow bridge this gap?

Think about the more “industrial” and professional plugs in your life. How does their their “rate of change” compare to the more consumer-facing plugs? Which ones are the most recent arrivals, and which ones have felt like they’ve been around “forever” (or maybe even too long)? What are the opportunity costs of permanently embedding these plugs into something, and how does that calculus work?

“The eventual desired path for all new technologies is a level of pervasiveness where they are accommodated at the shelves of a local convenience store.”

“Corner Convenience” | Near Future Laboratory

If you agree with the bright folks at the Near Future Laboratory, consider which ports, cables, and standards are ready for such a hallowed position on the shelf near the register, and which are “past their prime” and on the verge of yielding their space (both on hardware and on shelf space) to newer standards. 

How does this rate of change vary by context? Consider the differences at the convenience store level if you’re charging a phone, versus charging an e-bike, for example.

Finally, zooming out a bit, how far are we away from a post-plug reality, where cables, wires, and plugs disappear entirely? How will the disappearance of plugs and wires affect a context like Myanmar, where there isn’t even yet a single standard for which types of electrical plugs are used in the country?

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