Tag Archives: books

iPad – a brave new past? A few of the iPad’s ancestors…

OK, everyone’s talking about the iPad today and I’m not going to contribute alot more to that but I saw the below device today at work and it made me think that for all the technological advances Apple’s announced (10 hr batter life – WAY better than my iPhone), there’s not really much of a new idea in the thing.  I was hoping for something more.

So, behold… the iPad of the past:

iPad of the past

iPad of the past

iPad of the past

iPad of the past

If you look closely you’ll see its even called an eBook – and I’m sure there must’ve been a bookstore of some sorts to get them from.  Admittedly, Apples will be better than this but it shows why I’m not wow-ed by the iPad, initially anyway.

And while joking about this while someone I was working with at the time, he reminded me of the TRUE ancestor – the Apple Newton.  Remember those?

Apple Newton or iPad prototype?

Apple Newton or iPad prototype?

I guess its good to know that the drumbeat of mobile computing continues, even if we’re not wow-ed at every turn.

Mobile as the 7th Mass Media by Tomi Ahonen

Click here to find on Amazon

Click here to find on Amazon

OK, so I probably shouldn’t be promoting books I haven’t actually read yet but wanted to put up a pointer to this one after reading a great excerpt last night.  I’m excited to get the whole book – looks like a great read and what I read was full of good stats.

Sure the author is a guy with an agenda (heck, so am I) but he makes a very convincing case, not that mobile will replace all other media but that it is about to become a key part of the media ecosystem.  Think about it – what’s the first device many of us look at when we wake up and the last one we look at when we go to bed?

I’ll write more after I’ve read the whole thing.

Download the excerpt I read.

Tomi Ahonen on Twitter.

Views of – and into – the future

1984I read George Orwell’s 1984 when I was way too young and have carried its message with me – possibly too closely – through my career in technology and media.  Working in the space, its far too easy to see how the tables could be turned, allowing for a society with pervasive surveillance and monitoring to arise.  I already live in a country that’s covered with CCTV and find it a little too Big Brother like (and i’m not talking about the TV series here, folks).

In reading Halting State by Charles Stross, a similar – but less sinister and more dysfunctional – world view emerged. 

Stross creates a world where technology has (largely) been developed with the best of intentions but sometimes its failures or misuses lead to disastrous consequences.  In his near future, the characters wear glasses that automatically anticipate what their wearer needs and projects it for them – very cool – at first I couldn’t wait to sign up to get a pair.

But, what happens when these don’t function QUITE as you’d expect – at one point a policewoman wearing them has CopSpace (the all pervasive police information service that communicates with her glasses) crashes in the middle of a police manuever leaving her helpless.  Do we want to be THAT dependent on our techology?  The idea of CopSpace is sinister enough – but devices that make us dependent on it and that aren’t reliable make it seem truely scary, to me. And what of the character who’s fighting in a virtual world on his and ends up getting stabbed in the real world because he forgets the guy he’s fighting in the virtual world is standing only a few feet away in the real world? 

Halting StateOne chapter is called “Systems Fail People Die” – and I think this illustrates perfectly what could go wrong in a world where we become overdependent on underperforming technology and systems. 

The plot of Halting State revolves around a blur between the boundaries of reality, gaming and other media.  Pervasive gaming – via the video glassses – is prevelant and characters are faced with deciphering when messages they get from their ‘games’ might be from authorities in the real world and not just characters.  Initially, it sounds cool and entertaining – but as the characters find out that these systems could be using them as pawns in something far more sinister, it becomes creepier.

Please don’t read this as me being anti-technology – I’m not.  Much of the technology that Stross describes could be wonderful and make our world a better place – but there’s a fine line between personal services and surveillance systems.  Thanks to Phillip for suggesting this good read.

On the upside of this and back in the real world, I heard from Ken Brady (CEO of Genkii) today about the launch of Sparkle – the first live mobile touchpoint that allows users to communicate into virtual worlds while they’re on the go.  Seems great to me – allowing users a pervasive connection to their virtual lives (ok, it’s only Second Life for now but that’s still damn cool) can only strengthen their relationship with the content and services there.  From what I can see (still wishing for an iPhone here!) this is a great first step towards something I blogged about shortly after I met Ken in Korea last year.

Check out this video of how it works and the coverage its had on TechCrunch: