OFF=ON Trend and Ubiquitous Computing

The good folks at have a new trend report up, called OFF=ON. In their words:

More and more, the offline world (a.k.a. the real world, meatspace or atom-arena) is adjusting to and mirroring the increasingly dominant online world, from tone of voice to product development to business processes to customer relationships.

They’re absolutely right, the signs are right there for all to see. They have been for a while–Matt Webb has been one of the few voices banging this drum (read Matt’s take on OFF=ON here). The best articulation of it, though, has to go to William Gibson in a Rolling Stone interview:

One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real, the virtual from the real. In the future, that will become literally impossible. The distinction between cyberspace and that which isn’t cyberspace is going to be unimaginable. When I wrote Neuromancer in 1984, cyberspace already existed for some people, but they didn’t spend all their time there. So cyberspace was there, and we were here. Now cyberspace is here for a lot of us, and there has become any state of relative nonconnectivity. There is where they don’t have Wi-Fi.

It’s worth repeating that great line: “One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real, the virtual from the real“. It’s been an organizing principle for how I view the world in the last year.

For example, when I read “Beyond the Flickering Screen: Resituating eBooks” by Sherman Young, see Gibson reflected in Young’s statement “Instead of seeking to make an e-book culture a replacement for print culture, effectively placing the reading of books in a silo separated from other day-to-day activities, it might be better to situate e-books within a mobility culture, as part of the burgeoning range of social activities revolving around a connected, convergent mobile device.”

When I read about smart home monitoring letting us detect when our elderly relatives are hurt, I bask in Gibsonian glee. Granny’s got an IP address and we can ping her!

When I see that all the Android Developer Contest winners used GPS, I see Gibson’s face beaming back from me. That’s why Google drive the streets, why Nokia’s buying Navteq. The revolution won’t be televised, but it will be geotagged.

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  • Frank A. Adrian

    One big difference – you need a reality presence to be virtual. The inverse is not (yet) true. If you don’t actually believe that, let me put you in a box without food or water, but with a computer for a couple months. We see if you can distinguish between on- and off-line realities then. Do people in your line of work actually believe this hyperbolic type of statement this uncritically? Then perhaps you are right – maybe our descendants will be so dumb that they can’t actually understand that you need an off-line existence to be on-line.

  • Frank: thanks for taking your valuable real-world time to post on this virtual forum.

    Yes, you can’t live without food and water while you can live without computer access. That’s not the point. The point is that you can live without mass media, middle-class commerce, and industrial manufacturing (our ancestors managed it just fine) but that we rarely notice or remark upon them and we don’t say “I will now go to the mass market manufactured goods shrine” when we visit Wal-Mart. The division between manufactured, crafted, and natural has largely disappeared–every aspect of our life is affected by manufacturing and we take it for granted. Gibson’s point is that we’ll take “virtual” for granted as well.

  • to me the real world is still the ultimate goal, noticing that majority of trends cater to e.g. friends made in the real world, selling real world goods and services (i don’t enjoy a virtual cup of coffee per se)

    the drawback of the web right now is that it is not adequately drawn into our motile lives, where the Web experience is still non-native, for most it’s sitting in front of a computer clicking on websites.

    when economics (and digital security) permit everyone to have (and prepared to be plugged in) an ‘always-on’ online presence then it won’t be an important distinction at all

  • Frank, Bummerhan – the point Gnat is making is that it’s *all* real world, but just may not be physical.

    You’ve never met me face to face. You’ve never met me on the phone. You’ve never met me online before. However, we’re talking having a conversation. I’m real, you’re real. That makes it real.

    The medium of communication is just that- the medium of communication. There’s a qualitative difference, but what makes it real is that you’re talking to real, not virtual people. And Gnat is very real (especially the shirts :).

    Put it this way, do you consider a phone call virtual? Or is it real because you’re talking to someone live? What about voicemail? Is that virtual? OK, how about video skype? Is that virtual? What about audio skype? IM skype?

    OK, what about postal (paper) letters? Is that virtual? Or does a paper letter feel (more) special because it takes more effort? Because they’ve passed you a physical token?

    But is an email with the same text from a friend virtual, or still a message from the same friend? What about a “online” greeting card ? (that feels virtual & fake to me I admit – it misses the point of a greeting card IMO). But is email virtual communications or just real communications? If email, why not IM skype or instant messaging in general?

    Beyond that, if voicemail is “real” and live text or email is “real” (just as live audio & delayed audio is real), that surely means delayed text (blog / etc comments) are real too?

    The distinction disappears. The difference between real communications and virtual is whether you’re talking to a person or not.

    By way of comparison, the game Populous was a virtual world populated by lots of non player things that had no life. It was lots of fun, but fundamentally as real as sudoku – just a puzzle for the mind. Second life by comparison (which I don’t use, but do get :-) is an online world populated by lots of real world people. It will never remain the precisely same, because people and communities never remain precisely the same.

    That makes it a real communications mechanism to them. Sure the *infrastructure* is a pretty 3D environment, which is no more real than a painting on my wall, but the people are real, and it’s *that* reality that gnat is talking about. People to people, not people to machine.

    Fundamentally the thing that makes these “virtual” things addictive to people is the fact that they allow people to talk to people. They allow people to build and form communities. People have generally sought means to be social with one another since before history began – as cave paintings show.

    Fundamentally this is also the cause of trolling and trolls, if you stop and think about it – unlike normal physical communications, trolling is the online equivalent of prank calls. The impact however can be somewhat larger. Defacing someone’s blog (or wall, or comment list, or …) is the equivalent in the online world of coming up to someone’s home and defacing the outside of their home. Just like graffiti…

    (Hmm, reading that back, my tone seems a bit too emphatic, I just type fast and wanted to give a few examples to try and show what’s meant here.)

    I think however based on what I’ve seen, the distinction between virtual and non-virtual friends will change into “here” and “not-here” as well as the more distant “have physically met” and “have not physically met”, and then more fine grained (“met more than once”, “meet every week”, “met with every week, but not so often now” with the primary difference between these and combinations of these being trust.

  • Hi Mr. Bush;
    I would like to tell you a story about some people that may think their affiliated with you. I have a Business(BLUE BOBBY PRODUCTONS). Akila Records..I have two Cd’s out at this time witch means that they are registered with the U.S.Copywrites office.and under B.M.I..contract.I also have a Record label. I tried to make everything as legal as posible.About eight month ago Oreilly activated me as a member. then tragidy struck the family. My oldies son was murdered and the business effort came to a stop. Things is getting back to normal now. A person claiming to be a part of an organization called the JOHN LENNON SOCIETY. I signed up for their services a while back. Then I had a bunch of people e-mailing me constantly, saying the were marketers. One was a person from FEED BURNER name David Hooper whom said he had a project called MUSIC BUSINESS RADIO, he did not claim to be one of the marketers.said he could get me radio play. The other marketers I never dealt with. I explain to some of them the ones that I e-mailed back that I was starting a Productions company and record label and I was not just interested in sell my cd’s on-line through some marketers that I didn’t even know and had never met. They persisted for months.recently after we over came the deaths (more than one in the family). I got my pay-pal account set-up and a relation with my(bankcitibank) as a business associate and Pay-pal informed me that someone was trying to get into my account.And that someone else from kathode ray music claim to be a partner of BLUE BOBBY PRODUCTIONS. David Hooper offered to finance my next cd.that was nice of him.I don’t know how all these so called Marketers knew at that time that I had two cd’s out, I always thought they might be criminals like the nigerians that want to tranfeer funds from their bank to my account from africa. We know better than that don’t we. I talked to another person whom works for an attorney in san Francisco who said they were probley selling my music until I got music match and my pay-pal sat-up.I will talk to an attorney about that situation.meanwhile I would like your input about that. I faxed Gracenote and harry fox agency and your people my documents. If they are criminals operating on the net. lets get them off the street so no one else becomes a victom.. This is going to cost me time and money to striaghten this out.I am suppose to go back to the San Francisco Police Fraud department today. I’ll let you know what they say.
    I also got some kind of message from AOL radio when attempting to upload for radio play that I might have a bounce.what ever that is. looks like when I stopped their criminal activity, they got angry and did something that I am not familure with.I am just getting started in the business part of the music business so I don’t know what I am doing yet. I’ve been a musician for about forty years.Not in the business.I will drop by your office soon….

    thank you very much
    Bobby Perry
    Akila Records

  • UBICC Journal – Volume 1 Issue 1
    Volume: 2006 Volume 1 No. 1
    Publishing Date: 11/24/2006

    Recent Wireless Wave in Component base Integrated Control Systems for the Textile Industry
    Author(s): Sohail Shazad

    Future applications and platforms will be context-sensitive, adaptive, personalized and need to be run, in a reasonable and secure manner, on variety of execution environments: anywhere, anyhow, anytime, by anyone. Textile industry in the world is growing, as we advance into the knowledge age, objects and material technology will disappear into our material environment, turning unintelligent objects into active and intelligent. The market has also been boosted by changes in consumer lifestyles. This study addresses an emerging recent advance new field of research that combines the strengths and capabilities of electronics and textiles in one, electronics and information and wireless communication technologies will give rise to the area of intelligent textile. Success of wireless communications and mobile devices are stressing the need for the development of mobility-aware services and use them anywhere, anyhow, anytime, by anyone. Need to design middleware architecture to ease mobility-aware service development, and develop new systems which monitor any machine, anywhere, anyhow, anytime, by anyone. Using wireless technology and machine data may be accessed from anywhere, anyhow, anytime, by anyone in the Wireless-World.


    Users-Grid: A Unique and Transparent Grid-Operating System
    Author(s): Raihan Ur Rasool

    Grid computing, which emerged as a result of rapid development in high speed networking is regarded as the prototype of next-generation cyber infrastructure for science. It enabled collective use of globally distributed resources and came up as a huge problem-solving environment. Besides the inherent challenges of distributed computing, it presents some new challenges including, how the research professionals, who are not computer expert and normal users who just want to get benefit from Grid without taking care of its complexities can be motivated to adopt new and more complex way of working. In this paper we have presented our idea and architecture of ‘Users-Grid’. Utilizing Agent Technology and with its Service-Oriented architecture it will provide computing power transparently and easily. It gives the feature of true virtualization. It will be helpful to not only research communities and academia but also to business users.


    An overview of Geographic Restriction Mobility Models
    Author(s): Ibrahim Khider, Wang Furong, Yin ., Sacko –

    In this paper, we present and visit the limitation of Random mobility model, the unconstraint motion of mobile node. Mobile nodes, in the Random Waypoint and Random walk mobility models, are allowed to move freely and randomly anywhere in the simulation field. However, in most real life applications, we observe that a node’s movement is subject to the environment. In particular, the motions of vehicles are bounded to the freeways or local streets in the urban area, and on campus the pedestrians may be blocked by the buildings and other obstacles. Therefore, the nodes may move in a pseudo-random way on predefined pathways in the simulation field. Some recent works address this characteristic and integrate the paths and obstacles into mobility models. We call this kind of mobility model a mobility model with geographic restriction.


    A Fast and Efficient Strategy for Sub-mesh Allocation with Minimal Allocation Overhead in 3D Mesh Connected Multicomputers
    Author(s): Saad Bani

    This paper presents a fast and efficient contiguous allocation strategy for 3D mesh multicomputers, referred to as Turning Busy List (TBL for short), which can identify a free sub-mesh of the requested size as long as it exists in the mesh system. Turning means that the orientation of the allocation request is changed when no sub-mesh is available in the requested orientation. The TBL strategy relies on a new approach that maintains a list of allocated sub-meshes to determine all the regions consisting of nodes that cannot be used as base nodes for the requested sub-mesh. These nodes are then subtracted from the right border plane of the allocated sub-meshes to find the nodes that can be used as base nodes for the required sub-mesh size. Results fromextensive simulations under a variety of system loads confirm that the TBL strategy incurs much less allocation overhead than all of the existing contiguous allocation strategies for 3D mesh multicomputers and delivers competitive performance in terms of parameters such as the average turnaround times and system utilization. Moreover, the time complexity of the TBL strategy is much lower than that of the existing strategies.

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