After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

The Coming ‘Contextual Age’ – Technology Will Be Tracking Us

Posted on August 5, 2012
Filed Under Technology | Leave a Comment

Robert Scoble describes the new book he’s working on with Shel Israel as though it will be a little scary, and that’s a credit to the authors’ sensibilities. For the dawning “Age of Context,” Scoble’s announced title for the book, is definitely at least ominous.  Various electronic devices which, one by one,  most of us prize will be tracking and reporting on our locations and who knows what else. (That’s where the scary part comes in.) It sounds like it will be an age of observing, and a rather personal one.

The new age, as anticipated by Scoble on the Business Insider blog, will be “topped” by wearable computers like Google Glasses and various beaming cell phones. (There’s likely a smaller iPad coming, too – this fall.) Data bases in the “cloud” will be storing whatever they collect, maybe forever.

This new, automatic world,” Scoble writes,  “is already coming. Highlight tells you when people who are using Highlight are nearby. Automatically. Google Now tells you to leave early for your next appointment because traffic is bad. Automatically. PlaceMe checks me into every place I enter. Automatically (including places you might not want others to know about, like churches and strip clubs).”

There will be convenience, we suppose, in being able to track friends and family members. But who else might be tracking us, for what ends? It likely will be an era of ever more densely required user names and passwords, as though they’re not annoying enough already.

Scoble anticipates a soon-to-arrive TV guide that will recommend shows to be watched, based on who we are. A new kids toy coming for Christmas will change depending on its context, like a rainy day, for example.

One counter, though, to this stark new context is that through social media, the “new media,” we’ll be increasingly able to comment on such trends and perhaps modify them for the better.

Technology will reign in this brave new world, but here’s hoping that, somehow, it won’t rule us. Scoble and Israel expect to publish their new book in the first half of 2013, “right around the time the first Google Glasses will come out.” So you won’t have to wait very long to determine your place in the new universal context. Somehow, though, we wish we could duck out of it (even though we prize our iPhone and iPad). Remember Plato’s cave? Those mythical folks lived chained in a shadow world; ours sounds like it may be all too brightly lit. – Doug Bedell   


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