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Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s book “The Age of of Context” is a futuristic look at how technology will make our lives easier by adding relevant in-the-moment context to our experiences. But the authors also raise questions around people’s privacy rights.
Computers already know much about us. Think Google search. Google, just based on the things we search for, can know us better than people close to us. Technology that knows our preferences and likes will just increase, they say, but the key is that this information is used in a respectful and useful manner by businesses and organizations.
They talk about the potential of technologies like Google Glass, which is worn by people and allows them to take photos and at some point might perform very advanced tasks. For example, they say, imagine walking by a storefront that’s displaying an outfit you might like. The glasses would know that, alert you of the outfit and immediately search the web for the best deal on the outfit. Using just voice commands, you can order the outfit and have it shipped to your home. I’m not much of a shopper, but I would like this very much!
Sensors and contextual selling have the potential to make the consumer’s life easier and decrease irrelevant marketing noise, the authors say. For example: New technology at the New England Patriots’ stadium, which will allow stadium officials to prepare food based on trends, allows fans to order from their seats and much more. (Find an article on this project here.)
Of course, technology being so knowing can also present challenges. Some of the routine questions people ask:
- Are we losing all of our privacy?
- Who owns our data?
And those are valid questions. For example, the authors mention one case where a car company said the car’s data didn’t match a journalist’s write-up. But perhaps data can also encourage us to live authentically.
An intriguing and insightful read. I would recommend this book.
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