Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Technology and our world

I wrote an article in 2007 "Living in a world of exponential change" and in 2010 a review, "Still living in this world of exponential change", in both I reflected on how technology was changing how we connect with one another and how we communicate.

Two years on from the second article we are experiencing a paradigm shift driven by both technology and ourselves. We have adopted and become comfortable with new communications technologies and they have become an integral part of our lives.

On the 4th of October 2012, FaceBook declared that it was being used by 1 billion people every month (1/7 of Earth's population), I had forecast that it would not be long before most of the planet's population would be able to communicate with one another and also that they would be able to access most of the knowledge of the human race, but even I am surprised by how quickly this is happening.

In July 1969 a record was set for the number of people watching a live event on TV.  An estimated 500 million people watched the Apollo 11 landing.

The 24th of November 2012 saw another video record broken with 800 million people (over 4 months) watching the video "Gangnam Style", which made it the most watched video on YouTube. "Each day, Gangnam Style is being watched between 7 and 10 million times",  Kevin Allocca, YouTube trends manager commented.

While looking for facts about this I found that on the 13th December 2012 NASA interns produced a parody of the Gangnam Style video. (NASA Johnson Style)

From the NASA site, "A team of interns from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston created original lyrics, convinced several initially incredulous astronauts to dance along and shot the video at several NASA centers".

After just 5 days the video has had over 1 million views on YouTube, illustrating the power of "viral communications", a concept discussed in research papers by Andy Lippman at the MIT Media Lab back in 2003.

How we communicate, use technology and share information has really changed over the last few years.

Last week I read on the BBC news site that the Hubble telescope had seen further 'back in time' than ever before . I read this news on my mobile phone while travelling on a bus, being just one of many on the bus texting, e-mailing and reading. After seeing the article I wrote a short piece about the research on my blog . What of course is not visible is where I wrote the blog, which was in a French Cafe (Le Gros Franck) close to the bus stop. (picture, Google street view)

It was a very cold morning and the cafe has good coffee and wifi Internet access.
I was able to sit with my laptop and edit my blog adding images and information from the web, something I now take from granted as I have been doing this for many years.  But dropping into a cafe, accessing the Internet and writing on-line, has only recently become something which I can do in almost any city or town in the UK as wifi access becomes more ubiquitous. Of course in the US this has been the situation in many of the major cities for quite some time.

Back in November 2007 I was sitting in a coffee shop in New York typing an update on Facebook, I wrote: "I am sitting in a Starbucks off 5th Ave, New York, it is cold and wet outside! I have a meeting in Madison Ave in the morning - off to Boston in the evening, so will be there from Thursday", one of my friends from the UK saw the update explained he was in the US and arranged to meet me in Boston, neither of us knew prior to my post that the other was in the US.

How am I able to remember this update word for word? Facebook message search....

The picture on the left was taken on that trip and is one I shared with friends around the world via social networks. It had been my first trip to New York and when it stopped raining I thought I should try to capture the 'essence' of the city.

The 2007 post from Starbucks was written on an early "$100 laptop" from the One Laptop Per Child organisation (OLPC), thanks to Nicholas Negroponte.

Nicholas had a vision for the OLPC project and paraphrasing the last part provides me with a summary and a message.

Through new communication technologies we are now able to learn, share, create, collaborate and become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.

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