Mental note: context


Each now and then, a book comes up and changes the world as we know it. That may not be the case of “The Age of Context” from Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. The new book from these two respected authors takes you to the near future of information technology with a clear language and lots of real world, updated scenarios. So if you just want to find a good anticipation of what’s going to happen soon or to update your knowledge of what’s going on today, you might be interested in give it a chance. Or just stick with this digest.

The authors argue that mobile devices, social media, big data, sensors and location-based services converge to create a perfect scenario for a massive change in how we use computers. Taking an optimistic approach to the growing level of detail devices know about ourselves, they also recognize concerns about loss of privacy and suggest we take a decision: either we are available to share some personal details or we might lose some advantages of contextual services. And a strong recommendation for corporations to assume their full responsibility about using and keeping our data.

Through some 170 pages, one finds a long list of examples, completed with a 30 page list of hyperlinks that make a great portfolio. Shel Israel shared one thought with me on the book pre-launch at the Dublin Web Summit – “why do people still by books”. I mean, apart from having a signed dedicatory from the authors, I guess I’m still old school and like to feed the bugs in my library. And to have this twenty something post-it marking excellent excerpts that will be very useful in my line of work. They mark that:

  • 45 billion mobile apps have been downloaded during 2012 (that’s 6 per every single person in Earth, in case you haven’t figure that out)
  • 90% of the world data has been created in the last two years, it is estimated
  • It takes Google Glass one second to take a picture, compared to draw your smartphone from your pocket, start the app and click in 12 to 20 seconds (is this a killer app or what?)
  • Ordering food at a stadium using a smartphone helped reduce queues and increase sales
  • Cities are getting younger and suburbs are getting older and poorer
  • Cars are already better than their drivers, just still very expensive
  • Wearables are coming, from assault protection underwear to rechargeable battery t-shirts
  • Most of today’s classrooms lag the technology kids have at home
  • Transparency leads to trust in the new customer/citizens/people relations era

And many more you might find if you grab a copy of the book.

I am thus one of the lucky owners of a physical copy of this book. And you know what? It was fun to find the authors took exactly the same approach that I took about one year ago when I wrote “Tech Days”: self-publishing using CreateSpace and Amazon services. Or like Guy Kawasaki calls it these days, APE – Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur.

As a final note and call for entrepreneurs in the forge: mix the 5 ingredients (mobile devices, social media, big data, sensors and location-based services) to any line of business and you might just find yourself a big market. I know I’m looking to this recipe.