BoSacks: No B.S.: The Continuance of Computer Ubiquity
I attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January to see what electronic implications would further affect our ever-changing industry. What I discovered is not so much a new technology, but the start of a thought process in what I consider the inevitable next digital chapter. As you might guess, CES is filled with electronic gadgets from the smallest imaginable to the largest possible with today's advanced manufacturing techniques.
The pervading idea/concept was displayed everywhere, but not precisely articulated by anyone. What I saw was the overwhelming need for humans to communicate. We have been at it since cave paintings and the ability to grunt words as ideas and then put ideas into action. We have been at it since smoke signals, tom-toms, papyrus and, of course, our pal Gutenberg. We humans are who we are because we needed to communicate, teach and share knowledge. Publishing boiled down to its lowest common dominator is the instrument of this human requirement.
CES has taken the information-distribution concept to the next logical mechanical conclusion. Hans Vestberg, CEO of global telecommunications equipment and services provider Ericsson Corp., said in his keynote that 50 billion connected devices will exist by 2020. He added that there will be 6 billion mobile subscriptions and, by 2015, 5 billion smartphone broadband-connected people around the world.
This creates a new communications dynamic and a yet-to-be-understood networked global society. What will be the impact on us, as publishers, and to our society, when all our gadgets can not only "talk" to us, but also talk to each other, and without our intervention?
I saw at CES the continuance of computer ubiquity in the age of mass-information distribution. This is a time when very smart computers will be embedded into everything we buy and own. They are already in our toys, stoves, refrigerators, phones, cars, eyeglasses, medicine, TVs, internal implants, e-paper, and soon-to-be-full-color, reflective reading substrates.
Let's also add the rapidly developing stages of cloud computing to this line of logic, where all data will be stored on huge server farms in isolated areas around the globe. This obvious next step will bring the power of unlimited computation to everyone and all our electronic things. Imagine the vast power of the IBM Watson computer at everyone's beck and call 24/7. This universal, super-cloud-based, data-driven community powered by Watson-like machines will be connected to the 50 billion gadgets and computers we will have in unimagined and intricate ways—the power to think, reason and answer almost any question in less than a nanosecond by anyone and everything. Yes, it also does sound a bit like the world that the "Terminator" movies portrayed. The "Terminator" Skynet scenario is nothing more or less than a cloud-computing infrastructure with a very bad attitude.
But put aside the dark side of what might happen and think about the positive effects this might have on society. What I am describing is just the beginning of the next wave of ubiquitous computerized power to the masses.
To us in the publishing/media world, the possibilities are awesome and endless. We could and should be at the center of the digitized reading experience.
I believe all this informational power will lead to an energized and profitable age for all of us in the information-distribution business. PE
Bob Sacks (aka BoSacks) is a publishing industry consultant and president of The Precision Media Group (BoSacks.com). He also is co-founder of research company mediaIDEAS (MediaIdeas.net), and publisher and editor of a daily, international e-newsletter, Heard on the Web.