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This chapter is from the book

Connecting You

  • Additional applications will increase wireless data penetration. These applications will have two key attributes:

  • They will enable you to wirelessly collaborate with others using the same or other applications.

  • They will get your data to you (because you’re never in one place anymore or using only one type of device).

"It is no longer about computers being networked together," begins Kenneth Kuenzel, CEO of Covergence, a start-up in the area of network convergence, "it is now about people being networked together without actually being together." People and processes need to rendezvous in real time in the Inescapable Data world. Some of us (those who have crossed the communication divide) often carry three devices, all of which could receive a communication (laptop with e-mail, cell with SMS, PDA with instant messenger and e-mail, and so forth). Sometimes, we are closer to one of those devices. Sometimes, we want a message as e-mail and sometimes as an instant message and hardly ever do we want to process the same message more than once (in case two different devices received it). This is a significant problem for the connected cognoscenti among us because there is not a single infrastructure nor a single provider of all these services.

Furthermore, as we become more connected, we risk erosion of some important social conventions. "IM is invasive," continues Kuenzel, "we don’t want the mailroom guy IM’ing the CEO on a whim. We need to be able to maintain some degree of established social hierarchy. Yet, the real value in data today is in its timeliness. Devices and software therefore need to provide a more casual indication of how willing you are to collaborate using a particular format to a particular party at any given instant."

Connectedness will require some readjustments. On one hand, as connected members of society, we are saying we want information absolutely instantaneously, and to be sure that we receive it, we carry every communication device possible at all times. On the other hand, we are saying that we worry about being too reachable by both people we do not believe should have access to us as well as by rightful people at inopportune times. We wind up giving some people our cell numbers, different people our e-mail addresses, and different people our instant messaging handles. We need to learn how to manage our new connected lives or all of this will lead to confusion and an unwillingness on the part of neophytes to go deeper.

Some improvements will be made to current connectivity tools such as instant messaging and text messaging, but most likely, new applications will be developed that correctly merge the various communication technologies and add in a renaissance of social hierarchy—connected style—and more end-user awareness. It would not be surprising to see such tools come out of the open-source community given the current disparity between competing tools (which often drives the development of open-source solutions). For sure, there’s a waiting market out there for stuff that helps us better manage our connected lives.

As users of Inescapable Data devices, some of us will find that what is good for business is also good for personal use. Instant messaging (or text messaging) can have as much utility in our home and family lives as it does in business. Some of the connected cognoscenti among us would not expect a child to call just to ask to be picked up from the mall. (We are likely on a conference call anyway.) Instead, a text message can be processed in full multitasking glory. When driving to a soccer game away from the home field, a text message with the field location (rather than a phone call) obviates the need to write down an address while driving, or the need to "thumb" it into a PDA. If one’s favorite Little Leaguer had a great first at-bat, one could clandestinely text message Mom and effect a remote smile. In perhaps the most bizarre communication twist, the acceptance and use of text and instant messaging has changed how we talk when actually using the phone now. Our conversations are choppy, extremely short, and end abruptly (gtg [got to go]); often, we just hang up now without any "goodbye." Guilty?

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