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.