Josh Peck

My work and various curiosities...

Why I'm Nuts About Alexa (Amazon Echo)

So, the Amazon Echo (or as I call her, Alexa) has changed my world in ways that nothing has since the iPhone.

I actually wasn’t all that excited about the device when I bought it. I thought, neat another bluetooth speaker with a virtual personal assistant, that’s pretty cool — preorder. But once I received it, it became immediately clear that this device was a little more interesting.

I plugged it in, played some music, got used to the voice controls. Fine, it does everything you expect and does it pretty well. But it stuck me that there’s about 99.9% of the stuff that I want her to do she doesn’t do yet (and yes, I’ve completely anthropomorphized her). So, being an industrious sort of person, I cracked open the API and got to work.

Like many people, there are a series of numbers I monitor all day long. Stock prices, bitcoin price, intra-day numbers for companies with which I’m affiliated. So, the first thing I did is start wiring her up to pull all those numbers for me.

Cue the Jarvis moment. This is when she became a real virtual personal assistant for me. There are less than 10 questions I need answers to most days and she knows that answer to all of them now.

So, it’s subtle, but something just happened.

The way I connect with information just changed. When I was young, I went to the library to find information. Then I grew older and the internet became available, so I went to a computer. Later Apple shrunk the computer so it fit in my pocket. Now Alexa sits on an end table in my living room and she helps me find what I need, I just have to teach her how.

The last bit of friction to access information has been removed, I no longer have to pull the phone out of my pocket. The ubiquity of the experience stands out. No longer is access the internet something I do — I’m always connected.