Monday, March 25, 2013

Future of Networked Individualism

As I read chapters 10 and 11 in Networked about the future of networking and the thriving individual I couldn't help but think about devices that will make add to the "experience" of being "linked in".  Just as the internet and cell phone helped Linda (the book's example) become not only independent but also tech savvy, connected and Wall Street guru, so will gadgets of the future help us "connect" and get more out of life. For example, Google will soon be releasing Google Glasses. If you haven't seen or heard of Google Glasses, here is a short video:

As the devices get "smarter" it will make life easier and doing tasks that may have taken several minutes or hours can now be done in seconds.  Being linked in through location software and being updated by social media, etc will make it easier to stay "connected". 

Another thing that came to mind is a device/concept called the sixth sense. The authors even hint at something similar on page 278 when they reference Minority Report, the Tom Cruise movie.  Waving hands and clicking in mid air is science fiction no more.  MIT's Pranav Mistry has developed a device that incorporates digital wifi, a mini projector, microphone and camera all rolled together into one. With access to the web finding data comes nearly instantly as the camera recognizes items, people, etc. It does simple tasks like making phone calls, taking pictures and videos as well. It uses natural gestures to receive data from the user and can be projected on any surface which makes it totally mobile. Here is an older video that explains the device:

Also, not only will these devices be smart, so will everything else. Imagine when you can start a bath from your cell phone, or your refrigerator sends you a text message letting you know that you need milk. These days are not far off. Some Apple designers have started Nest, which learns and adjusts your home thermostat and allows you to do so via cell phone as well.

With being connected all the time there of course comes the cons. If you think you're connected ALL the time with your cell phone, just wait until you're wearing items. There's no escaping then! Such things as geofencing also raise the issue of privacy.

In the end, however, it wall comes down to the experience of the individual. That is basically what makes us as humans unique. The only real thing separating us is our individual experience. Will merging technology with the human experience cheapen or lessen the very experience itself though? How close can we merge humans and machines? What's next then...creating cyborgs, the hybridization of man and machine?


  1. There's a chemical and biological engineer at UNL who has developed a nanoscale device that is described as "electronic skin". It would give robotic devices used by surgeons the ability to have human-like touch. I think you're right... the days of merging humans and machines are not that far off.

  2. Those glasses would be crazy! Hopefully the maps are a little better than the latest iPhone 5 :) It was interesting to see that he shared his photo to his "circles" on Google + since it's a Google object. I wonder if you'd be able to access Facebook, twitter, Instagram etc. as well! Great videos