Thoughts on The Age of Context
The Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy, the new book by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel examines the intersection of mobile devices, social media, big data, sensors and location-based services and how this “Perfect Storm” of technology will affect our future.
The authors paint a picture of an exhilarating, brave new world; one Scoble and Israel don’t have to work hard to sell me on.
Sign me up, boys.
In addition to being heavily involved and invested in social media for the past five years…
- I work almost exclusively on mobile devices, relying heavily on speech recognition technology to stay productive. Make those devices smarter about my needs and the context in which I’m working? Sounds great.
- I already am a cyborg with implanted devices in my spinal column. Make that hardware smarter so it can do its job more effectively and communicate with me when it is on the fritz? Fine by me.
- I’ve been engaged in a rigorous meditation study and practice for the past three years. Move toward a future where you can control computers with your brain waves? Sign me up.
But, as I learned over the past decade working as a consultant, I am not an average person.
Scoble and Israel aren’t either.
They know most of the ideas in Age of Context will be scary for some people.
And their enthusiasm is tempered with warnings about the inherent privacy concerns that will come with these changes and is informed by a deep understanding that the innovators who are creating these technologies are still miles ahead of the general public who will someday use them.
From “say and spray” to a pinpoint.
Scoble and Israel’s chapter on marketing in particular does a great job of outlining the Herculean efforts that will be needed to convince companies to shift from the mass marketing of generic content to huge swaths of the public, to the “pinpoint marketing” of highly targeted content to specific markets using contextual awareness to increase effectiveness.
As I’ve seen firsthand, far too many companies still insist on having complete control of all their marketing conversations; they talk, we listen.
For something like “pinpoint marketing” to work, they will need to learn to let us do the talking while they concentrate on the more challenging (but ultimately more rewarding and lucrative) task of ferreting out our signals from the noise, responding to our requests and marketing the appropriate messages to us in return.
Most companies are not only miles away from integrating The Internet of Things, Google Glass and geofencing into their marketing strategies, they’re still doing things like fighting with IT to get a firewall lifted to create a locked down Facebook Fan Page, upon which no “fan” will ever be allowed to post.
Welcome to the future.
Companies are still scared of operating in a remotely social world. A brave new world, woven together with contextual technology, is likely the stuff of nightmares.
But technology is continuing to evolve and grow at increasing speeds, whether the average Joe or Jill has nightmares about it or not.
This book is a helpful reminder that, sooner or later, the Age of Context will be staring all of us in the face. We’ll need to decide if we’re ready to step into the unknown to stay competitive or if we’ll cling to the familiar and risk becoming obsolete.
The “Age of Context” will be an “Age of Opportunity” for those of us who are bold enough to claim it.
Personally, I can’t wait.