Monthly Archives: June 2014

Virtually, You Are Here

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If you are reading these words, then you are, by default here.
An effective writer can do that, through the clever use of words, similes and metaphors. By carefully stacking letters like blocks of code, until BLAM! You are here.

Reading creates a state of mind, without circuitry, or silicon, or bits and bytes of data organically designed. Like technology, it fulfills a purpose, sharing and entertaining passages that tell a story and “Once upon a time” is the crossing line, the threshold. But sometimes the reading material doesn’t begin like a fairytale.
Sometimes, it’s boring and repetitious and in our rush forward to all the great apps that the digital world has to offer, we hastily finger swipe our touchscreen and assume, the wording to be correct. Because we’ve become familiar to and insensitive to legal verbiage, the Terms of Use:

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING TERMS CAREFULLY. BY CLICKING “SIGN UP” ON THE SITE OR BY DOWNLOADING, INSTALLING OR OTHERWISE ACCESSING OR USING THE APP(S) OR THE SERVICE, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah…
For the next six or seven paragraphs, the font will grow smaller and pretty much, it will read like all the other Terms of Use, and all written with capital letters—the equivalency of screaming in a hell and damnation kind of way– we’re “BOUND BY THE FOLLOWING TERMS, INCLUDING THE PRIVACY POLICY.
And this, the usage of terms like Privacy Policy seems benign, and so it might be when used with apps; but there’s another side with far-reaching consequences, like the information stored on our things, like cellphones, tablets and soon to be Internet of Things (IoT).

There’s value to the human signature and a quiet elegance to being able to write in cursive. It’s not an art form, it’s a skillset.

Some of the world’s greatest documents, The Magna Carter, The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, each a signed manifesto are reminders of the human condition, and hopefulness, as we press on.

There’s no lasting image to a swipe of the finger, it just can’t compare to the swirling ink of a pen. It’s little things like signatures that we need to hold onto. Especially as we enter the Internet of Things (IoT). When machines talk to machines (m2m) and massive amounts of data are transmitted and analyzed in real time. We may need the simple things to remain simple, like ink and it’s staying power.

By then, privacy may no longer be sustainable. Or attainable, as profitable markets shift, change and the economy adapts. What happens then? Will it matter?

The world is smaller than it was, thankfully we have social media. And in a virtual world, it brings us together. You are here.

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Filed under Big Data, facebook, Google, GPS, Internet, Marketability, Privacy, profitability, social media, tech, technology, Twitter

The Window to Virtuality

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The window to data has opened and we see all manner of things, both big and small as if technology had been grown in a petri dish and now made available; the circuitry of possibilities.

Like the Industrial Age before it, the Age of Technology is full of innovation. And it’s all happening very quickly, and gives merit to the adage “If it can be imagined, then it’s possible.”

The future that was set into motion, doesn’t care whether we prepared for it or not. Each generation has been given the world, “As Is” with a bucket of nuts and bolts and a set of rudimentary tools; and incomplete history books, that substitute and interchange individual greatness for truths.

The notion of getting things right the first time seems impossible; as does the approach of taking it slow and steady. Unlike Aesop’s Fable, “Hare and The Tortoise”, there will be few winners among those who lag behind, or who are too slow to keep pace in the Age of Technology.

We see society changing so rapidly that words like “virtuality” and terms like “social media” have been added into our vocabularies without foreword or discussion. Clouds and Fogs have taken on added definitions, and Big Data, is exactly as it implies, only more of it than what had been supposed when the term was first introduced.

And if it sounds like a storm brewing, it just might be and at the epicenter is social change. Society will have to adapt and must adjust quickly to the disruption.

Already we’re seeing the disruption to the traditional livery and taxi-cab businesses, with new upstarts like Uber and Lyft, carving out not a slice at a time, but huge chunks. Traditional funding has also changed. Crowd-Sourcing and companies like Kickstarter, has successfully launched upstarts. And yes, it does help when you’re not seeking to be funded by old establishment banking systems that founded the horse and buggy and stagecoaches, when you want to bust into the industry!

Interestingly, letting go of old innuendos, and outdated traditions is even more difficult, at a time when our natural instinct is to maintain the status quo, that is to cling onto what’s familiar and held dear. But that’s exactly what has to happen, this purging of society so the new can be integrated. It’s not always achieved by brute force or by the slower, art of persuasion.

Social media is a part of the Age of Technology, mostly without precedent. The internet can impact change, without a bullhorn or a stadium, or the power of a microphone, millions of people can gather and share; to create one voice and be overwhelmingly heard.

We witnessed its power when women outraged against misogyny, used Twitter and through the power of a “hashtag”, used their touch screens to send a message that was heard; the beginning of change.

So there is a future. The window to data has opened out to it and we see all manner of things, both big and small as if technology had been grown in a petri dish and now made available; the circuitry of possibilities.

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Filed under Apps, Baby boomers, Big Data, Consumers, gadget, Gender, Gender Equality, social media, tech, technology

Technology Loses A Skillset

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As schools let out for summer vacation, it occurs to me that some kids will never learn how to read a roadmap. GPS, Global Positioning Systems have eliminated a skillset.

Technology has taken us away from Norman Rockwell’s America; and up ahead is a Digital Age full of wonder. Our world is changing. Smart devices are able to communicate with other smart devices; they’re exchanging bits and bytes of information—from lighting to temperature to foods and medications; without any help from us.

And it’s all happening so quickly, that when someone asks what just happened, we can assume that they blinked and missed it. It’s just that fast; giving added meaning to the phrase: “in the blink of an eye!”

Thankfully we have smart devices to handle most issues, whether or not we’ll be able to adapt and translate the information might be a challenge. But having the right tools is half the battle. Training will come to those who need it, because it must.

I remember when a road trip required a map, and that we bonded around and watched as an index finger followed what was hopefully an interstate highway. And the map was always carefully folded and stored away.

Back then you didn’t drive with the car’s air conditioner turned on. We were kids and some nitwit on television said you can drive a lot further on a car’s full tank of gas, so that’s what we did. And we packed the car to the roof with our camping gear and kids and little need for electricity.

We always started out early in the morning, as if we could out run the heat of the sun. Somehow it always caught up and baked us thoroughly. Our voices shrill with excitement as we set out on a family adventure and made memories. Often times, we’d get lost. Hence the need for the roadmap, and a set of skills to be able to read it.

Getting lost was always better when we’d find a gas station, a restroom and some food. Funny, but you find the best little restaurants, when you’re not actually looking for them. We’d use the restroom, eat and leave; make the left turn onto the interstate, but forget what came next in the set of directions that the waitress just gave us. But we’d sleep well.

I wonder if getting lost in the Digital Age will be as fun, or as memorable. I hope so!

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Filed under Baby boomers, Gender, GPS, Maps, social media, tech, technology, Uncategorized

Smart Technology Isn’t Osmosis

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We embrace smart technology as though owning a smart device will in effect, make us smarter. As if by magic, call it the osmosis of gadgetry, we’ll improve upon ourselves. Well truth is we can, but generally that’s not how it works.

It can and it should, but instead we’re becoming less focused and we’re losing our abilities and our skills. The point of GPS is to guide us along roads and highways, not to lead us by the hand. But that’s exactly what’s done, and we’re losing our ability to read a road map. It isn’t an art form; it’ a skillset. And we might lose it, unless we make a conscious effort to maintain our skills. Because the mind, like an unexercised body loses tone and becomes less efficient.

It begins with the small stuff, like numbers. We use to know our own and other important telephone numbers, but now we store them on our smart device. Leaving ourselves vulnerable to a partially charged or dead battery; or worse when we lose or misplace them.

But I recall a different time, one in which children studied and knew their telephone numbers by heart, as if it were a sign of passage. Once memorized, they could go all the way downtown. The furthest any of them had ever been without an adult, alone and away from home. This was an achievement!

But things change, and now the stakes are higher.

American society is dumbing-down, becoming lax when we most need to stay sharp. Technology requires aptitude, not just as it’s being invented, but also as an end-user. Adults need to pull up a chair and learn old lessons over again, how to flex our memory so that we can smartly use the technology.

With our minds clear and focused, as it manipulates two digits: 1’s and 0’s.

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Filed under Apps, Baby boomers, Code, gadget, social media, tech, technology, Uncategorized

Consumers and Big Data Prep

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Big Data is here, with its streaming terabytes of information and its misleading name, it is every bit of big and then some; more accurately it’s humongous!

The Digital Age is triggered by more than just the Internet of things, those smart and intelligent devices that will be collecting and transmitting goo-gobs of data, it’s also analyzing that data. Adapting and recognizing the patterns and all of this, in real time.

Real time… Yes, those are dots in my sentence. Ellipses that are meant to indicate a moment of silence. Because the era of static data, as we’ve known it is passing and along with it, our swagger and our understanding of how it worked.

Back then, we knew that Google and search engines in general, like to collect data. We knew about cookies; about saved IP addresses and that our internet habits, were being stored. We knew that the static websites we visited didn’t change; and the way we surfed, registered and played on platforms was analyzable and vulnerable.

We might have never understood the logic in a public Beta release, but we learnt how to download apps to fix the inevitable bugs, inherent in an early product release. And even greater than this, we learnt patience. We knew and chose our game pieces, internet avatars to represent our likenesses. We smiled when days later, having been off the internet for a while, we’d log back onto the web and find our little selves still there, waiting for us.

Manufacturers are preparing to open the gates, to release the first products in the Internet of Things. Soon Big Data will be upon us. It’s a game changer and the key players are businesses. How they adapt, their scalability will determine the outcome.

We, the end users, the consumers of the Internet of Things are preparing to make our selections. It’s been estimated that each one of us will have approximately 6 devices. And each device will add to the stream of data collected.

I hope it goes well. I hope that businesses can gain insight and serve their customers better; that they turn a profit; and hire more women (at equal pay for equal work). I hope that business applications become more innovative and push forward and not sit back on their laurels.

I hope for the success of Big Data, because I’m an end-user and I know that when IT goes badly, IT flows downhill.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Big Data, Consumers, gadget, Gender Equality, Girls, Google, ipad, Marketability, small business, streaming, tech, technology, Women

New Fairytales and Girls Spin Code

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The Age of Technology, with its Internet of Things and Big Data are game changers.

And it seems that we’re going to need more players. Luckily for us, we have a whole lot of girls who are willing to play. But how serious are we about getting girls into coding? Not very, if we’re not changing the way society views and treats women.

We need to begin by providing girls with a safe environment for spinning code; we need to tell her better stories that will enrich her mind. And most important of all, we need to start her off with the right toys, the proper tools to build with, not just baby dolls. Yes, America is in need of a gender make-over.

Once upon a time, fairytales were enough to placate children and to teach them life lessons. Stories like Snow White and Sleeping beauty excited a girl’s imagination, with their common damsel in distress motif.

Fairytales were especially great if you were a boy. Good for the ego and chauvinistic in nature, they lifted him up and his imagination thrived with dreams of greatness.

But it has a different effect on girls. For her, fairytales unwittingly skew the image of women. The subliminal message is always the same, that women are weak and aren’t as important as men. In nearly every Disney movie the mother dies in the early scenes, as she does in Bambi; or she’s the mother completely missing, as in Rumpelstiltskin. Most recent attempts at changing the format fall short and revert to the modern version of the ineffectual mother, as in The Princess and The Frog.

Perhaps we should limit a girl’s exposure to Disney movies; maybe shorten the amount of time she spends playing with Barbie dolls and Easy Bake ovens. Maybe we should give her more video games to play, ones that will engage her intellectually.

Or maybe we can tell her a different fairytale, one in which a woman saves a man that’s in distress. It happens.

And then there’s still that bit about “equal pay for equal work”. Yes, we have to fix that, so a girl will believe that women are worthy; it establishes a level of respect. And in a healthy society, a boy or a man also needs to know that a woman who does the same job is being compensated for a job well done. It establishes a level of respect.

And finally, if we’re serious about girls doing code, we need to provide her with a safe environment for spinning code; we need to tell her the proper stories to enrich her mind; and we need to start her off with the proper tools to build with, not just baby dolls.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Big Data, Code, Coding, Gender, Gender Equality, Girls, tech, technology, Women

Big Data Uses Syntax for Storytelling

Big Data Revere 1Big data is coming! Big Data is coming!” Where’s our Paul Revere? Who’s galloping down our asphalt streets shouting the warning?

There should be some announcement on television. The network media should make use of their cherished Emergency Broadcast signal and bleep us to attention, so we might know: Big Data is coming!

We need to know and understand that we can’t control Big Data; that our success will be to accept the fact that we can’t protect all the data. Collaboration is the key; the sharing of information so that it won’t be so overwhelming. This will be the period of adjustment, so our minds can get around it and adopt the technology.

It’s been said that American society is wobbling, it wasn’t just Big Data that set this in motion, but it’s the Age of Technology. The parity, its impact, its failings and its successes; all the little bits that go into life and how we live ought to know that society is wobbling towards change. That’s what happens with big footsteps, things get shaken up and come loose and change.

I believe that it’s going to be good. Because that’s human nature, our survival instinct and it allows us the luxury of hopefulness. So, my feelings of excitement far outweigh any misgivings I might have. I know three things: A) Big Data is so vast that it can’t possibly be protected. B) Not all of it needs to be protected. C) Privacy is malleable; particularly the little guy’s privacy. That is mine, but I can live with this truth.

In 1995, when my daughters were little, I told them stories about dinosaurs. We went to the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and stood beside the massive bones. And they saw how big the dinosaurs were and how infinitesimal we humans were compared to them.

In that humbling experience, we were all a little grateful that they were no longer around. We read stories of how they became extinct and how mankind could never have co-existed with them. A story that was awe-inspiring and entertainingly depicted in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park movies. But the take away was the legacy that the dinosaurs left behind, fossil fuel. Without which there would have been no Industrial Age and our present, Technology Age.

And that’s the point, that as Big Data uses syntaxes and processors get cheaper and cheaper, it’s going to get much bigger. And we humans will stand alongside and look up at, as if it were an old relic. All of our information gathered and stored. Biometrics like face recognition, iris and finger print identification, processed so that it mimics us and appears that machines are running things.

A storytale for the ages and it’s exciting!

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Filed under Baby boomers, Big Data, Consumers, Internet, Privacy, social media, Syntax, technology