Like me, if you’re paying any attention to the signs, trends and foundational elements upon which innovation in technology occurs, then you have to be seeing what I’m seeing…it’s sooo close. Do you see it?
Right there. Don’t see it yet? OK then, let’s push against the membrane of the future together for a minute.
If you look now you can just make out a mobile device, connected to a ubiquitous wireless network (that you can use even when you’re miles from a major metro area, off the autobahn or Interstate highway system, or at some point in the future on the Serengeti plain in Africa) and is so simple to use that you’re able to connect and re-connect to the global grid in an instant and have all the world’s knowledge at your fingertips.
When you’re in your car, at a restaurant, a dinner party, at a business meeting, at school…anything connected to the global grid you’re authorized or able to grab is yours for the snagging from a device in your hand.
We’re partially there now and more is coming.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Apple’s eagerly anticipated iPhone is the closest concept yet to a just beyond the membrane of the future simple to use, multi-function device that will be useful for the masses to leverage our currently decent wireless network…and is one set to expand dramatically.
According to GigaOM today, there are distinct chunks of spectrum that hold the promise of mass geographical coverage and expanding the grid. An increasing number of mobile communications online applications are proliferating (e.g., this list at eConsultant). The World Wide Web Consortium’s Mobile Initiative adds even more fuel to the fire of a mobile, global grid.
Couple that with the always-on, always-connected, culture of participation (see “Rise of the Participation Culture“) and you have a brew from which all sorts of possibilities come forth!
Though I look like some geek when I do this, at least twice a week I’ll be in a conversation and someone will say something like, “You know…that ocean…the one by (country here)….what’s that called?“ I’ll whip out my Treo, go to Google, enter a search string and, I swear to God, almost instantly I can find a reference to that country and there’s an obvious link that contains the data where I can answer that question. It’s a bit of a conversation stifler at the moment as I futz with the device, but I’m pretty good at glossing over my thumbing on the Treo, we carry on the conversation, and I circle back to the fact and insert it into our discussion. Works great.
Did this at a dinner party one evening awhile back when people were struggling with an artist and a song. No one knew, the conversation continued, and about two minutes later I mentioned the artist. “OH YEAH!” came the head-slap comments and we carried on. Trivial in the scheme of life I realize, but extend this to the DOZENS OF TIMES PER DAY that I look something up on Google, use Google Maps, find a phone number on Directory Assistance, send SMS messages, send a photo/blog post to one of my private client blogs, use Instant Messaging….all from applications that run on my Treo!
So how is this going to transform the world? In ways predictable but mostly ones that are not. Who knows what will be the killer application for the always connected world — especially when better geotracking is in the mix? What I do know is that some of it is already here…and if you push just hard enough on the membrane of the future you’ll have a good indication of what’s coming.