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2010: The Year We Make Contact?

Opinions in this article are my (Christopher Gutteridge) personal opinion.

I prefer the movie 2010 to 2001, but that’s a rant for a different blog. In the years between 2001 and 2010 we’ve seen the world change.

The war on terrorism has been a sad feature of the decade with it’s erosion’s of established freedoms. The new UK “Digital Economy” bill is the latest in a long line of legislation which benefits abstract entities over people. But this is also the decade we’ve seen many companies take a step back from DRM. Openness is exciting, it allows people to try out dumb ideas. It gives the chance for us to experiment.

The current move of the UK and USA governments to make data available online in useful and joined-up ways is amazing. Other countries will doubtless follow our lead. I expect the next decade will see a high-water-mark of open data as the initial wave recedes, but progress will have been made.

I’m utterly proud to have had the opportunity to contribute to the Open Access movement, and to see the amount of research which is openly available due to our efforts. The next steps are to get rid of the embarrassment that is PDF. We’re still using simulated A4 paper in documents which are digital from cradle to grave. Digital distribution allows us to make very very deep footnotes. 10 years from now all supporting data should be supplied with the digital document, along with the tools or instructions to recreate any process of analysis.

In 2020 terrabyte drives will be in disposable “Tree Presents”. You’ll be able to impulse buy storage that can hold more movies, in HD, than you will watch in your lifetime. It only takes about 40 Terrabytes to hold 80 years worth of mp3s.

What I desperately hope to see is more interoperable cheap devices. Input, processor, sensors etc. Cheap enough to build commercial items out of, but worth harvesting when the item is scrapped. I hope that we’ll see taxes favoring items which are easy to recycle. Ideally manufacturers would be taxed on the recyclability of items, and consumers would pay deposits which were returned when the item was handed in to a recycling plant designed to handle it. Anything with reusable components should get a tax break.

The last 10 years saw some great advances in cybernetic tech. such as robot arms and cochlear implants. I met a 10 year old who saw nothing very science-fiction about his cybernetic ear. The next 10 years will see the first elective cyberware (I’m not counting the prof. from Reading Uni.)

We’ll also see some scary stuff in image tech. Google goggles are the tip of the ocean. Given head mounted camera, a net connection and some readout only I can see (I assume we’ll have LCD contacts soon), you’ll be able to look at a person and ID them and get all the notes you or friends made about them, see their blog, read crap they put on usenet as a kid etc. In seconds.

It’s inevitable this tech will be used by the police in sensible ways, but also there will be cases of it being abused. But no cop will be able to cover his ID number when my phone can ID him by his gait and hair colour.

All this tech. is coming and it’s going to work on disposable tiny devices. Sometime in the next 10 years we’ll see software algorithms that our government wants to ban anyone except licensed people using. Those will be interesting times.

Oh, I also predict upheaval once the first truely painful cloud computing data-loss occurs. eg. Imagine if Flickr went bust and everybody lost their pictures.

OK. I’m off out for new-years eve now. I’m trying to think of a good bit of “use sunscreen” style advice, and the best thing I can come up with is to remember that you are not your data. Losing your blog or your mp3 collection is not half as important as you think.

Or maybe the old text adventure adage “Examine everything. Make a map. Save often.”

Happy new year.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Michael Nolan linked to this post on January 1, 2010

    links for 2010-01-01…

    Southampton ECS Web Team › 2010: The Year We Make Contact? I'm not the only one thinking about open data. (tags: southamptonuni chrisgutteridge government opendata data) The Wisdom of Cameron: Crowdsourcing for the Conservatives Another Tom Scott …

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