Friday, September 5, 2008

Alan's World

I am more than ever struck by the ubiquity of the iPod. Walking the streets of San Francisco, I am assaulted by Billboards pushing the device as a fashion accessory. The Olympics were dominated by images of Michael Phelps stretching on the pool deck with buds in his ears. What I have noticed most lately is how we no longer notice.

I upgraded my iPhone to the latest 3G model. It is an amazing device. With it, I text, tweet, buy, browse, blog, read, search, mail, mix, mash, locate, direct, calculate, and play. Unlike my lap top that I set up, this device is always with me--always on. It seamlessly extends my capability and constantly connects me to the people and the information I care about.

This is different than the Palm I use to carry. It is more about me than work communications. Back in the ‘70s I heard Alan Kay talk about wearable computers. He saw them as the true personal computer and that they would revolutionize the way we live and work.

At some point the automobile became more than a fast horse cart and led to a new industrial infrastructure. Similarly the desktop computer became more than a powerful typewriter and calculator and lead to the fundamental restructuring of the workplace. Each of these led to fundamental shifts in lifestyle, quality of life and commercial productivity.

We are in the midst of another such phase change. We are just beginning to understand the importance of what this device (and others like it) can do. We are beginning to weave it into our social fabric. Alan’s world is finally emerging.

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