(via Sebastian Fiedler) So I would qualify this as must reading for anyone who is trying to get a handle on what’s happening with social technologies. This month’s issue of Technology Review has a well written article by Wade Roush about the impact of blogs, wikis, Flickr and the like:
This explosion of new capabilities shouldn’t be mistaken for “feature creep,” the accretion of special functions that has made common programs such as Microsoft Word so mystifyingly complex. There is something different about the latest tools. They are both digital, rooted in the world of electrons and bits, and fundamentally social, built to enable new kinds of interactions among people. Blogging, text messaging, photo sharing, and Web surfing from a smart phone are just the earliest examples. Almost below our mental radar, these technologies are ushering us into a world of what could be called continuous computing–continuous in the usual sense of “uninterrupted,” but also in the sense that it’s continuous with our lives, in all their messy, social, biographical richness.
I agree with Seb who notes that we’re starting to see all of these disparate tools being pulled together into a more holistic framework and that’s a good thing. When all of the parts really come together, it will be interesting to see how close to reality this vision is:
And this, in the end, is what’s truly new about continuous computing. As advanced as our PCs and our other information gadgets have grown, we never really learned to love them. We’ve used them all these years only because they have made us more productive. But now that’s changing. When computing devices are always with us, helping us to be the social beings we are, time spent “on the computer” no longer feels like time taken away from real life. And it isn’t: cell phones, laptops, and the Web are rapidly becoming the best tools we have for staying connected to the people and ideas and activities that are important to us. The underlying hardware and software will never become invisible, but they will become less obtrusive, allowing us to focus our attention on the actual information being conveyed. Eventually, living in a world of continuous computing will be like wearing eyeglasses: the rims are always visible, but the wearer forgets she has them on–even though they’re the only things making the world clear.
Lots to think about…