Future Culture

Futurist Writer Lei Kalina writes her tongue-in-cheek musings and ramblings on the growing worldwide phenomenon of the growth of the Future Culture in the 21st Century

Future Culture In The 21st Century

Future Culture In the 21st Century

Futures Studies, Foresight, or Futurology , according to Wikipedia, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies (colloquially called "Futures" by many of the field's practitioners) seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends. Futures is an interdisciplinary field, studying yesterday's and today's changes, and aggregating and analyzing both lay and professional strategies, and opinions with respect to tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kindle Me Softly


Wow, wait till I get my hands on these beauties ... If you're some techie geeky bookworm who's willing to break the piggy bank and splurge on these drool-worthy dreams, check out the Kindle.

Amazon's Kindle entered the tech scene last November 2007 , pitched by Amazon.com as an "e-reader allowing easy access to a vast library of electronic books to be downloaded and read on the device... with over 90,000 books available for download..."

"Books are loaded onto the device wirelessly via Amazon’s free EVDO network (called WhisperNet) and are published in a proprietary format for the Kindle. In addition to books, Kindle owners can also send files to Amazon to be converted and published onto the Kindle, and access blogs and newspapers through the Kindle’s browser. Kindle displays its contents via electronic-paper display, a new technology that creates a paper-like display for electronic text that is also used in Sony’s Reader product."

Amazon Kindle screenshot

Amazon Kindle screenshot

Gone are the days when you have your arms outstretched --- wary of your stranger-seatmates in the bus or subway train --- as you read your newspaper. With Amazon's Kindle , all you need is one hand and read away --- thousands and thousands of pages ---- read-till-you-drop.

And the e-book , initially in its boring beige / dirty white color, is soon to evolve this coming October with fuschia neon pinks and other shocking colors --- further to attract not just the business / enterpreneur market , but even the upper class teenyboppers and school-strutting graders .

CrunchGear reports:

"Consider the financial impact when the college market is more fully explored. Students are used to paying outrageous prices for textbooks. Even though the excuse “it’s the high cost of paper” wears thin rather quickly, students will always need texts. I’m sure future generations will hear “it’s the high cost of production” as the excuse for overpriced e-texts, but the fact remains students and texts go hand in hand. Just the simple luxury of not lugging around a heavy library should spark the market."

"The surge in e-readership may outpace expectations. While analysts agree that sales will grow, estimates vary wildly. Ultimately, with a solid base of almost a quarter million Kindles sold already, it might be time for a second look. Especially if we’ll be seeing a new Kindle soon."

After almost a year in the market ,
reliable sources say: 240,000 units have been sold, with $6,000,000 in revenue for every $25 worth of reading material purchased. The e-readers alone, sold between $360 and $400, have generated somewhere between $86 million and $96 million, and as more and more Kindles are sold, more and more reading materials go along with the shipped units.

Geez, it's so unfair, man. Analysts watch in envy: "It seems Amazon has tapped into a real and viable business."

Under wraps and about to be unveiled this October 2008: the new Kindle models, yep, just in time for the holiday crunch. Will the younger set love it ---- pink and pastel colors, looking like a sleek-svelte-and sexy Ipod mini? You betcha.

Business is doing good, and the Wall Street analysts are turning green with envy. " And if a new Kindle comes out targeted at the textbook/school market, sales could ramp up higher."

The original Kindle, which launched last November, has been widely regarded as a success, though Amazon has curiously refused to release any numbers related to its sales figures. In May, Citigroup Analyst Mark Mahaney estimated that Amazon may sell $750 Million in Kindles by 2010. The same report also guessed that Amazon has only sold between 10,000 and 30,000 Kindles to date, suggesting that it may display the same exponential growth seen by the iPod during its climb from 129,000 units sold in its first quarter to worldwide dominance, with over 100 million sold.

"Scott Devitt, an analyst at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., predicts that Amazon is on track to sell 500,000 to 750,000 more Kindles over the next four quarters (including this one). He estimates that Kindle owners will buy an additional $120 to $150 worth of books and other content for each device, bringing the total revenues over that time period to somewhere between $225 million and $355 million. Based on that, he values the Kindle as a $1 billion business for Amazon."

"Back in May, Citi analyst Mark Mahaney was estimating that total sales of Kindle’s this year would only reach 189,000. That number may have already been surpassed (depending on how many of the 240,000 units Amazon sold before January). His estimate called for 467,000 units to be shipped next year, and 2.2 million in 2010, resulting in total revenues going from $60 million in 2008 to $741 million in 2010. It might be time for him to revise those numbers upward."

Geez. All you'll want for Christmas is, well, go tell your Santa Claus : )

Virtual Hugs, Hug Shirts, and Heart-Monitoring Clothing

CrunchGear reports:

"We get the weirdest crap in our tips inbox, most of it unpublishable (unless your filter allows through things like “Hard HORSUE sexx tranny”, as ours does). But then there’s things like this Hug Shirt. It connects to your mobile phone via Bluetooth. It has sensors as well as actuators. You have your Hug Shirt, your partner has their Hug Shirt. You hug yourself, and the sensors take the data from your hug and send it to your partner’s phone, where a Java application causes the actuators in their shirt to “hug” them."

"It’s more of a fax-a-hug, but whatever. Do we need this technology? I’d rather have a cure for any one of Hilton’s maladies. And I do mean those ones."

Hahahha... I'd say... Why not??? Sometimes, you and your better half would run out of great ideas on showing how much you care --- and those SMS, MMS, and mushy emails are squeezing your creative juices to the fullest. And with available technology to the tune of "fax-a-hug" , "virtual embraces" and electronically sent kisses ( it's called YM as in Yahoo! Messenger , folks) , why won't it be a welcome idea?

But with your Hug Shirt, make sure that nobody is watching you when you go through the motions of ooohh--and---aaaahh love Stylistics --- or risk having people create ideas that you're going loony :) Meantime , both you and your partner should be wearing the Hug Shirt at the same time --- for your "faxed hugs" to be felt.

But there's more from these mod fashion scenarios.

Adidas just came up with a hip shirt which --- while making you look cool as ever --- will also "cool down" your stress and woes about your heart rate . The sports fashion apparel company has tied up with Polar to produce a new line of clothing called Project Fusion , with double whammy functions of monitoring your ECG stats and heart rate , as well as making you look, uh . cool.

CrunchGear says:

"The system has sensors built throughout the shirt to check your heart rate and the shoes to keep tabs on how far and fast you’re moving. After your workout, just upload all the info to your PC via Bluetooth and see how you did, and how long it took you to recover. The sensors are supposed to be soft, as not to be uncomfortable and the transmitter that collects all the data is firmly planted in the front of the shirt, so it’s easy to recognize and use."

For a whopping US$680 price, it certainly doesn't come cheap: but the pricey stuff would go a long way in saving lives --- especially those with heart ailments. One thing though: one quick look and it shows that it would look kinda funny if you have "love handles" on your sides, and extra fat and bulges everywhere --- it only comes in a one-size-fits-all fashion.

Before you get the courage to wear it ( like me) ... better do a lot of huffing and puffing in the gym to carve your body into some strut-your-stuff figure. But then, you'll need it all the more while you're exercising. So there's the rub.

Snooze Email: Hit Me Later

Now, this is a beauty.

Sometimes you just feel like you’re swamped by too much emails --- everything urgent, everybody trying to get your attention , and the spam button , for crying out loud , isn’t any help either.

Sure, you can call me one of those inbox clean freaks --- classifying each email ( I get tons of emails in a daily grind) and carefully tucked in separate folders, whether it be my longtime Sylvia’s forwarded messages, or my college friend’s forwarded email blast jokes, or Friendster’s horrifying load of email notifications ( finally turned it off, whew!) , until I sweep the inbox clean and spic-and-span neat. Then came a loadful again after a few hours . And my come-from-behind remorse. Now why did I subscribe to this $&*# mailing list ???

To the rescue , ta-dahh! Here comes HitMeLater .

Tech Crunch reports:

“HitMeLater is simple. Forward any email to 24@hitmelater. com and it will send it back to you 24 hours later, putting it on the top of your inbox pile. You can change the number of hours to anything you like, up to 1,000 hours ahead (3@hitmelater. com sends it back three hours later). Alternatively, put in a day (Wednesday@hitmelat er sends it back the next Wednesday).”

“If you send it something it doesn’t understand, HitMeLater sends back a polite email message saying “We’re not sure what you want.”

“If you’re like me you rely on flags to remember which emails to go back to, but they often get buried and are left unattended. From now on I’ll forward stuff I need to deal with but not immediately to Sunday@hitmelater.com, my slowest email day.”

While some are already grouching and snarling this early ( “Why should I use such a service when I can always use my desktop for some ‘Remind Me Later’ tasks?” ) , I guess it could be something like a virtual online assistant --- nudging you about that all-too-important task or event but can wait for another 24 hours or more --- because you’re currently drowning with too much ASAP work . Whew!

Philip Kaplan’s cool new service may not be that hot for some , this HitMeLater. thing has some valley wags and techie geeks raising their eyebrows in cynical fashion. But the guy is something else :

“Philip oversees AdBrite’s product management and innovation. Prior to founding AdBrite, Philip founded several businesses including PK Interactive, a software company that developed Web-based applications for Fortune 500 clients including Toyota and Mead Paper. Philip’s personal sites have earned accolades including Yahoo and Rolling Stone’s Site-of-the-Year, and #6 in TIME Magazine’s “Best of 2000.” Philip is a regular public speaker and is the bestselling author of F’d Companies (Simon & Schuster). He is on the board of the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University.” (Source: AdBrite)

Oh well. If you have some comments … hit me with it later . : )

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Next Ten Years of Web Future

Curious about the next ten years of cyberculture? Check out what the experts say:

The Future of the Web

We asked technology innovators, luminaries, and users what the Web might be in five to ten years.

By Kristina Grifantini
http://www.technolo gyreview. com/read_ article.aspx? id=20943&ch=specialsections&sc=futurebiz&pg=1

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Director of the World Wide Web Consortium and inventor of the Web; Cambridge, MA

"I would like to see the Internet reach people in rural areas and help alleviate poverty. I would like to see more people reaching the Web from devices big and small, fixed and mobile. I look forward to more voice technology-- in hands-busy scenarios such as driving, and also to increase accessibility (e.g., for people with low vision).

The long tail of video on the Web is creating a new market of direct access to independent films and also has the potential to help with literacy issues. I hope for the proliferation of Linked Open Data: the Semantic Web 'done right.' I hope that governments will open their data stores to all citizens. A mashup sphere will feast on a wealth of Semantic Web data and herald the next wave of progress and creativity on the Web."

Vint Cerf
Vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google and co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet; McLean, VA

"There will be higher-speed Internet access by fiber and wireless media. Seventy percent of all mobiles will be Internet enabled in 10 years or less. Gigabit speeds in wired and wireless modes will be more widely available. Many more appliances (home, work, car, on your person) will be online.

IPTV will offer radical new consumer-controlled advertising opportunities. IPv6 will be the dominant mode of access and use of the Internet. Multi­touch and voiced interfaces will be very common. Devices will discover each other when they are local and interact in a P2P fashion."

Richard Stallman
Main developer of the GNU/Linux system and founder of the Free Software Movement; Cambridge, MA

"No one can see the future, because it depends on you. But I see a danger in the Web today: doing your computing on servers running software you can't change or study, and entrusting your data to U.S. companies required to give it to Big Brother without even a search warrant. Don't risk this practice!"

Bjarne Stroustrup
Professor at Texas A&M University and designer of the C++ programming language; College Station, TX

"The total end of privacy. Governments, politicians, criminals, and friends will trawl through years of accumulated data (ours and what others collected) with unbelievably sophisticated tools. Obscurity and time passed will no longer be covers."

Mena Trott
President and cofounder of Six Apart; San Francisco

"With the popularity of blogging and online video and photo sharing, we already know that people want to publish significant portions of their lives online. In 10 years, I can easily see someone putting 75 percent of their day online. But it won't all be public. The ­majority will be for that person's eyes only; it will be more a record for that individual."

Leah Culver
Cofounder of Pownce; San Francisco

"Open standards will always be the future of the Web. Developers should be able to rely on their programs' running well on multiple platforms. Simple and open API standards such as Microformats, ­OpenSocial, OAuth, and OEmbed will help developers build the next generation of Web applications that we love."

Jonathan Zittrain
Professor of law and cofounder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and author of The Future of the Internet--and How to Stop It; Cambridge, MA

"The future of the Web may be its past: an abandonment of open standards and services (like the collective hallucination that is our distributed e-mail system) and a return to the gated communities that offered consistency and security--and also lock-in. To avoid this future, application developers must pressure the makers of cool new platforms like Facebook and Google Apps (or the iPhone, for that matter) to abandon their ability to kill any apps at any time for any reason."

Marc Benioff
Founder and CEO of Salesforce.com; San Francisco

"The future of the Web will all be about developer empowerment. We have seen the Web disrupt and dis­intermediate content and commerce, and now software development is next. Companies such as Salesforce.com, Google, and Amazon are making it possible to create and run powerful business applications in the cloud, and that will change the economics of the software industry forever."

James Pearce
Vice president of technology at ­dotMobi; Dublin, Ireland

"The mobile Web. In 10 years' time we will look back at those quaint few years when our online experiences required us to sit at a lonely keyboard and screen. You don't have to sit by a hi-fi to listen to music in the 21st century. Why should you have to sit at a PC to use the Web?"

Mohit Hira
Director at ­Indiatimes.com; Gurgaon, India

"Web 2.0 and social networking are the latest fads in India, like the rest of the world. But here there is also a quiet--almost underground- -movement to incubate new ideas specifically relevant to the Indian user's needs. From languages to mobile applications, we will see adaptations of existing sites and platforms that will appeal to Indian youth. Cricket, movies, and music are likely to be the three cornerstones on which most of the Web will evolve."

Erik Hersman
Cofounder of Usha­hidi and author of the blog Whiteafrican. com; Orlando, FL, and Nairobi, Kenya

"The future of the Web in Africa is the mobile phone. SMS and voice will be used to augment existing social networks, empower trade, and increase information sharing. While there will be continued development in the traditional Web space as data networks become more robust, the true explosion will only come on a ubiquitous and affordable device."

Mohamed Nanabhay
Head of new media at Al Jazeera; Doha, Qatar

"In the Middle East, the Web has allowed a wider spectrum of voices to be heard in a region where the media has traditionally been tightly controlled by governments. I expect this characteristic of the Web--its ability to amplify the voices of those who could not be heard--to become more significant, and the Web's impact upon society to grow, as Internet and mobile penetration increase and the online ad market matures.

There will be an explosion of ­activity on the Web over the next decade, driven by the region's youth boom."

Jonathan Abrams
Founder of Socializr and Friendster; San Francisco, CA

"In five to ten years, we will all have chips in our brains. When you look at someone's face on the street, your Google Brain software will automatically call up every embarrassing photo of them from ancient websites such as Flickr, Facebook, and MySpace; list all mutual friends; and remind you of the person's annotated bio.

As a response to the perceived slowness and verbosity of antiquated services like Twitter, people will send everyone they know nanobursts of information about anything they might do or think before they actually do or think it. Every website, blog, and social-networking profile will include an aggregated feed from every other website, blog, and social-networking service, resulting in an exponential and infinite length of repeated content on every possible site, overloading our brain chips and causing frequent nosebleeds and occasional cerebral hemorrhage."

More of readers' comments / replies:

http://www.technolo gyreview. com/read_ article.aspx? id=20943&ch=specialsections&sc=futurebiz&pg=2