I wouldn’t want to presume to have thought of something before Tim O’Reilly (cf. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/15/sxsw-2011-internet-online#
), but in 2007 I wrote about Web3. I called it mesh networks and widely distributed databases (http://my-world.typepad.com/rworld/2007/09/global-justice-.html http://my-world.typepad.com/rworld/2007/10/more-on-the-mes.html
) and cited Dust Network’s (http://www.dustnetworks.com/
) sensors as part of the puzzle. Semantic language technologies are part of it, of course, but the ubiquitous mesh, and widely distributed data is what, now, is transforming the world.
For me the challenge is how to humanise this phase of Internet technology development.
On the one hand it is obvious.Smart dust, mesh networks and distributed databases (the Web of things, the Real Wide Web) do NOT need central service providers. But, the cost of developing such things is huge. The ones with the power to fund the development are the ones with the power – and the purpose – to deploy developments tactically to their own advantage. Centralising service providers: telcos, network marketing infotaintainment companies (Facebook, Google, Sky/News Corp, Disney, etc) and intelligence infrastructure engineers (BBN, Cisco, BAe, etc.) are buiding a terra nullius on behalf of financial capitalists (Accel, Carlyle, Founders Fund, banks, etc), populating it, and then dominating and exploiting that population (us) with a sublty and an ingenuity, which – in a perverse sense – is awe inspiring (see, e.g. the world’s largest neuro-marketing database http://www.emsense.com/news/LargestNeuromarketingDatabaseintheWorld.pdf
). Allegedly, “credit card companies can predict with 98% accuracy, two years in advance, when a couple is going to divorce, based on spending patterns alone.” (Reported by Oliver Burkman http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/mar/15/sxsw-2011-internet-online#
But, as much as any altruism might drive me, the reason to humanise this phase is because otherwise it is probably self destroying. Why? Given that much of the tactical deployment is based on building simulacra of relationships, crafted models of pseudo-human behaviour, anti-emergent, normalising or surveilling control technologies. Through these we are building a perverse Gollem mind, a shackled slave without love, compassion, respect, thrift, solidarity or autonomy.
In some other world, citizens might club together, pool their funds and guide such development in their interest. We used to call this publicly funded research and development. But, the organisations we constituted to manage this public funding (governments and states) have been overwhelmed by and drawn into collusion with organisations (corporations) and their leaders, who appear to be motivated principally by a will to power and lust for wealth.