by Dana Blankenhorn
  Volume VIII, No. III

This Week's Clue: The Life Changes Of Always-On

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This Week's Clue: The Life Changes Of Always-On
SSP (Shameless Self Promotion)
SP (Shameless Promotion)
Reporters Must Add Value
RFID Myths And Reality
Carly Milhous Fiorina
Clued-in, Clueless

Dana Recommends The Blankenhorn Effect offers a powerful, positive message for our time. Once you understand how Moore's Law impacts every part of your life, how powerful it is, and how irresistible a force it truly is, you will have the power to predict the future and know how to change it. Buy it today, and make 2003 a better year for yourself, your business, and your family.


For the Week of January 19, 2004

Scott Ward read last week's Clue and asked a good question.

"I am very interested in your perspective with regards to the positive and negative effects Always-On will have on our psyche, ethics and relationships."

Specifically, he added, "Do you see cell phones as the first widespread Always-On success?

Answer: yes. The exclusivity of the frequencies and the narrowness of the bands are a problem. But the fact that you don't need a lap to use one, their low cost, and the fact that you can quickly replace them are all hallmarks of an Always-On interface. Other examples of great Always-On interfaces are Palm Pilots and your TV remote. (I got a "universal remote" for Christmas and I'm very happy with it.)

There remain problems with that cell phone, of course. The paradigm of screen and typewriter remains. But I do like that voice interface...the ability to communicate with Always-On applications in new ways is important.

Now, how will this change our lives? Obviously it will change them in ways we can't imagine now. Just as the Internet has yet to be fully-defined, and will be defined only by the children who grew up with it, so it will be with Always-On. Again, as Scott notes, we have some hints from the cellphone, which has become the dominant communications medium alongside the rise of the Web. Kids love cellphones.

Some hints are already apparent from that. Don't underestimate the willingness, or ability, of people to use complex instruction sets if it's something they want. (Kids love ringtones, while I'm not even using the messaging capability of my phone yet.) Don't underestimate the market's willingness to pay, either.

But I think Scott was looking for something more philosophical.

What does it mean to have our intimate details tracked and computer-usable?

Assuming we can win the right to control that data (and I think we can), then the next step is acknowledging its necessity.

I turned 49 last week (thank you). We're all getting older. There's no alternative. All western societies are aging rapidly. Japan is a decade ahead of us. As we age we become less prone to be criminals, and more prone to be crime victims. So the sharing of our data, even with police, goes from being questionable to being a positive boon. Also, for our societies to survive, we must find ways to stay active longer, to stay in our homes longer, to go as long as we can without the need for the institutions - hospices, hospitals, old age homes - that exist today.

Always-On is a key to that. The medical applications of Always-On are myriad. They can be made. They can work. They cost much less than alternatives. So they will happen.

Scott offers more implications:

"We only have to plan generally. The specifics (e.g. meeting place/time) can be decided in real-time right before it happens. This has changed the face of planning and scheduling forever.

"We don't remember phone numbers anymore because they are stored in our phones. If we lose our cell, pay phones won't help much because we don't know anyone's number!

"The daily need to practice 'informational' patience is evaporating because anything we want to know is immediately available.

Scott calls "the habit forming power of Always-On powerful and far-reaching," and he's right. I mentioned some medical applications. Scott is talking about office applications. But there are many others - security and inventory applications to start. Combine this with GPS information, with the general computerization of automobiles, and I suspect someone will be getting home without driving within a decade, starting with drunks, kids and the aged.

And I predict we're still at the tip of the iceberg. When you create a wireless broadband infrastructure, combining the scalability of PC technology with the robustness of the Internet, and remember that Moore's Law assures us this will only get better, you have something that is bigger than the PC, bigger than networking, and bigger than the Internet itself.

You have the next great boom. Get on board.


Shameless Self-Promotion

I work as a business analyst with Progressive Strategies, a New York research firm that has the ear of the world's top technology companies.

My last book, "The Blankenhorn Effect" won the Computer/Internet category in the 2003 Independent Publisher (IPPY) awards .

You have my permission to forward this newsletter widely. And if you have trouble subscribing let me know. Remember: it's journalism that keeps the Clues coming...


Shameless Promotion

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Takes on the News

Reporters Must Add Value

While writing about a different subject, politics, Doc Searls made a very good point about technology journalism.

Reporters must add value to remain relevant.

This is true on every beat. It's not enough to be a gatekeeper, or to try and play "gotcha" with a product's claims. You have to provide real insight, vision, direction, from the moment you get a story, or else there's no need for you.

This is the fact about blogging that most drives the mainstream media crazy. The rule in a blog is "have a take and don't suck." I've found, in the last year of my Moore's Lore blog that the items which are picked up are always those that show attitude, that seem outrageous. There's a lot of talk radio in it, with one crucial difference. If everyone is spouting the same nonsense on talk radio people listen anyway. If you're spouting what everyone else is spouting on a blog no one listens.

That's why, despite recent growth, technology journalism has staged only a minimal comeback, if it's staged any at all. The press releases are all available online, we don't need a place to print them. Publishers have not yet learned that they must offer personality and pizzazz, not the same-old same-old. If you're in the pocket of the advertiser people have no need for you.

If The Register were based in the U.S., not just featuring a U.S. edition and a few U.S. writers, this would be obvious by now. They're not yet executing on the ad side, they lack creativity there, partly (I think) because they're small, partly because they're British. They could also use a graphics sense. So the best writing lacks graphics and ad bite, while the U.S. industry continues to lag and refuses to learn.

As it is in the tech press, so it will be everywhere else. Combine the British editorial sense with an American sense of marketing and you'll win. That has been true for a long time now. The reason is that the Brits must live in a competitive market, while U.S. journalism companies carve-out markets as oligarchs and become lazy.

Tell us what it means. Then find a way to sell it.


RFID Myths And Reality

There's an outfit here in Atlanta called TechCenter which has the potential to become the Next Great Tech Consultancy, because they understand things like on-demand and Always-On that must happen in order for the industry to go forward, and stop spinning its wheels.

One of their executives had a very interesting commentary on RFID, to which I added my two cents .

Here's the bottom line. RFID needs to show consumer benefits and become a consumer technology in order to gain the acceptance needed for it to succeed in the business space. If you consider that all Always-On homes will be networked, and all PCs will thus be servers, RFID is an Always-On client technology.

Carly Milhous Fiorina

Carly Fiorina made a big show at CES of appearing on stage with music artists.

It was the biggest fraud since Richard Nixon's Secret Plan to Win the War In Vietnam.

It was fraudulent on several levels. First, Fiorina's not producing any technology that does anything regarding music, she's just selling Microsoft's "solution." Second, she's not putting a dime in a single musician's pocket.

For the last year H-P has been pushing digital photography, with some success, but that niche is relatively small. The big money is in bigger files, in digital video, a niche dominated by Apple. Fiorina still lacks the know-how to go there, so she's throwing up this big smokescreen about digital music.

Too many big people in this world believe that the rest of us are idiots. Fiorina is just one of many. My guess is they will learn. I can't tell you when or how, but the lesson will come.


Clued-in, Clueless

Clued-in (maybe) is this silly "arrest yourself" form put out by the police in East Point, Georgia . The city, which is south and west of Atlanta, near the Airport, is trying to appeal to the kinds of young, hip, computer-literate people who will get the joke. (Thanks for this item go, believe it or not, to my friend Klaus Arnhold , who was pointed to the site from his office in Hamburg, Germany.)

Clueless is the continuing claim that technology "increases child porn." What it really does is increase the prosecution of child pedophiles. It makes no one a pedophile, but the search for it has sent many into the criminal justice system for good.


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