online: 18 december 2003
modified: 18 december 2003

16 december 2003 dataclouds in reality

14:59 This afternoon I'm reading a text by Pete Gomes about what he calls dataclouds, fiction science, terraportals, etc - new abstract words and phrases with which one can envisage and describe the possibilities and the actualities of mobile phones, mobile computers, wireless networks, and other such new technologies... For instance:
Our cities shimmer with waves from mobile phones, cell pools of information and applied invisible structures that, having slowly pervaded our lives, now shape them. The foundation has been laid by the mobile and will be built upon by the forthcoming pocket technologies of the portable device and the dataclouds they will create...

...Clusters of users can form temporary networks; not diagrammatic conceptual flows but tangible moving data. Two people sitting on a park bench with computers: a network. All locations become information portals to areas, people, cultures and psyches, portals rooted in physical locations and geographies: terraportals.*

As I read these projections of Pete Gomes I notice two things:

the poetic manner of using abstract language to augment imagination, to enable ideas to fly,

and the more threatening manner of using abstract 'machine words' (as I call them) to appropriate people's life as tools or ingredients of business. e.g.

...the future of the user experience... how do you dissect the user experience to determine new expectations that your consumers have? How do you refocus your organization toward delivering a smooth, effortless user experience? How is all of this relevant to strategy development?...**

I see these two kinds of abstraction as opposites but Pete Gomes sees them as complementary... I hope he is right... Can it be that things which are opposed, dualistic, under mechanisation can unite, as complements, when technologies become more automatic, more alive?... Yes, I think so! So now to change my thoughts, accordingly...

*Pete Gomes, WYSNWYG - WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT WHAT YOU GET, in receiver magazine 8, page 1, © 2003, Vodafone Group.

**From an invitation to a business conference organised by The Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Center for Business Innovation, 2001. The threat that I feel in this, as in many such communications, is firstly the absence of the writer, the user, or anyone else, as a person or a presence - and secondly the reduction of experience, of life itself, into an industrial or commercial commodity.

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