Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Technology Incest


Let’s look at the semi-conductor as the mother of all our technological advancements today that has given birth to the computer who in turn bred the internet and procreated the likes of You Tube and Skype.

Would we be considered hypocrites if our society considers incest a taboo while praising the act of the TV coming on our mobile phone, our Palms Hot Sync-ing with our laptops, having Second Life unload on the internet, cameras shooting their flash through the shrinking mobile phone, fixed lines plugging in to the internet, or even online anti-virus applications checking out our laptop when in sleep mode?

Just as homosexuals started becoming accepted in some societies, the inter-relationship of technology is becoming more legitimate and liberalized. What used to be copper is now bursting out of the closet and seeing the light of fiber optics. What started off as a civil marriage between AOL and Time Warner to breed content for the online world has turned into a giant orgy of technology leading to the convergence of telecom on a bed known as the IP platform – and the only person enjoying the orgasm is you, the consumer.

This ongoing orgy has been getting more and more intense over the years and has resulted in several off-springs until today. Similar to the evolution of mankind, the evolution of these offspring is continuously adapting to suit our needs and allowing the survival of the fittest.

What started off as ICQ and mIRC has manifested in what we all now know as Skype, and what was once known as a website developed and edited by a programmer is now known as an amateur’s blog, and Google Video has evolved to You Tube and Joost.

More and more gadgets are being developed to feed the fetishes of these technologies, ranging from the basic USB memory stick, to iPods, PDAs, digital cameras, smart phones, and media centers. The mating was heeded through different calls, from GPS and RSS to Vlogs and Vod-Casts. Many Viagra-like applications were also developed to sustain this activity and eliminate potential impotence like You Tube, Google Earth, Google Desktop, My Space, and Flickr to name a few.

This incest has led to the blurring of boundaries, not only those of TV, Internet, Telephones, and mobiles; but also the boundaries between people and industries. Examples of this include having the person who takes your order from the McDonald’s drive through based in a call center miles away, or tutors for children in the states based in India.

Many different technologies have been developed over the years and each has spun off on its own route. As the internet gained market share every technology wanted to use it for leverage. Such industries include TV and Radio (streaming), telephones (VOIP), the mobile industry (WiFi and WiMax), newspapers and magazines (online news, RSS etc.), the government (egovernments) credit card companies (online payment) and even life (Second Life), this list can go on forever. Convergence is the use of the internet to create one linking platform between all of these different technologies and making them talk to each other eliminating the need of humans (data enterers, programmers, operators etc.) to do so. Convergence definitely brings the spotlight on the internet, and calls for major reform to accommodate all usage, and a lot of standardization to ensure compliance among the different usages of the net and ensure compatibility across the board.

In summary convergence is intended to leverage the wisdom from each individual technology into one platform. This would eventually make everything smarter, and is giving rise to the smart phone, the smart car, the smart home, and eventually as the whole nano and biotech industry kicks off the smart you. This would require a smarter lifestyle and a change in everything we do from the alarm that wakes us up and the machine that makes coffee to how often (if at all) we visit the doctor. (An example would be a global clock linked to your workplace working hours, that generates your coffee in the morning with instructions from your barista in Italy, tests your DNA as a morning medical check-up directly consulting with your doctor, and syncs with your mobile phone generating your diet of the day.

Convergence is giving rise to user generated content which is becoming the hottest commodity today according to TIME magazine who named ‘YOU’ the person of the year, and Ad Age who named ‘The Consumer’ as the advertising agency of the year. With convergence consumers can access all the tools necessary to create their own content as opposed to receiving it from someone else. An example would be you and friends making your own movie since you have access to the most advanced movie making tools and movie making experts through online forums; as opposed to watching a Hollywood production.

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