How the Industrial Webolution is changing daily life for all of us

Industrial Webolution on CSC Blogs

The Industrial Webolution – Part 3 – Daily Life

In parts one and two of this series I have noted how the development of the industrial Web today bears some resemblance to the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. In this final part of the series I look at daily life, community and contact.

By Glenn Augustus, Technologist, Global Infrastructure Services

class Consumer { int money = 1; String product = “anything”; }

The Industrial Revolution, to a large degree, created consumer goods, or at least created a lot more consumers. Demand for goods excited the economy, which created jobs, which provided wages for men, women (and children) who were inspired to emulate their “social superiors” through the purchase of clothing and a wide variety of fashion accessories. (Pretending a class system didn’t exist would not accurately reflect the time.) Items that would have been grown or made at home, such as butter, milk, vegetables and lots of alcohol, were now available in shops.

Today, the creation of the consumer class has expanded to encompass just about everyone on the planet. Virtually ubiquitous, although not equal, access to the Internet has been made possible through the recycling of handsets. Excluding yourself from this technowash is a lifestyle choice that raises eyebrows. We are now in a consumer world where the products are so vast in variety that it would seem everything has been invented — until someone changes the surface to which today’s products are attached and we again need a new version of Tetris.

Daily Life

I wrote in Part 2 how life expectancy and the standard of living during the Industrial Revolution was generally poor. Today, daily life is changing and — hold on to your hats — it is going to change fast.

We have been granted a respite over the last few years while the concepts of connected devices have settled on the public and while we bed-in technology advances that today deliver on mostly modest expectations. The largest online players are limbering up to make a play for some of the most sought-after real estate: your kitchen, your house and your car. Technology such as Amazon Echo, Cortana from Microsoft, Siri from Apple and “OK Google” will advance to deliver amazing things, enabled through integration with home and car automation equipment. And real and virtual world event systems such as IFTTT have such untapped recipe capability that we haven’t even scratched the surface.

Community and Contact

In the industrial revolution, new communities emerged and gravitated around developing industries. A number of examples exist where the community and its culture was effectively defined by the ethos of an industrial company.

Take for instance Cadbury, now part of the world’s second-largest confectionary company. The enterprise firmly believed that a happier worker made a better product and, in the 19th century, built a village for its workers to alleviate cramped living conditions in Birmingham, UK. Even as recently as the 1980s it was commonplace to know people who had never travelled to a foreign country, let alone entertained the thought of collaborating virtually with people across the planet as if they were in the next office.

The pathways that were once worn by the feet of horses are now laid with glass fibre, dynamically establishing and bringing virtual communities together through a shared interest. There are people that believe this is at the expense of physical colocation and interaction, and at a micro level this may be true. But the net-net-of-the-net is that there is more sharing of knowledge, in a data sense, than we have ever done before. Relationships that previously would have faded into the past can be kept alive through the systolic pulse of social network push notifications.

There is no acceptable substitute today for human contact, and it remains a delicate balance between the infinite combinations of senses that are stimulated through actual contact and the perception of contact, such as online chat, the stimulates only a subset of the senses while we use aggregates of prior interactions to complete the experience. If there are only a small number of prior interactions, or the prior interactions are aged, then this can skew the perception and also lead to repetitive aspects that are unlikely to represent the outcome of a true proximal interaction.

This re-use of the same prior interactions, in combination with the partial-synthetic interactions (such as auto emoticon response), could lead to a harmonizing of possible outcomes and the onset of apathy toward the subject due to a small set of predictable responses. This is why the profiling data held by the social networks needs to stay fresh to remain valuable. Yes there is value in the basic profile, but there is far more opportunity for the presentation of revenue-generating content if the profile can align to a living digital consciousness.

The Industrial Webolution

The change happening today does not mine coal, does not fabricate road bridges or capture the energy of the ocean waves. It’s beginning to understand the result of those; it’s able to distill disparate acts and predict with increasing precision the likely outcomes of cause and effect.

We are witnessing the creation of network emotion, a super-sensory network, more powerful than a neural network, more pervasive than the Internet, a 6th sense formulated by community, influenced by business, constantly growing in knowledge and accessed everywhere.

Whether you consider this a challenge to free will or just some cool technology or anywhere in between, that is of course your choice (for now maybe??).

Finally…

Well that’s it for this series. Hopefully you have enjoyed some of it, disagreed with some of it and most of all, sparked some ideas for your own writing.

Don’t forget to comment, get involved and get in touch using the boxes below and reach out direct @glennaugustus


Glenn Augustus

As a Technologist in CSC’s Global Infrastructure Services, Glenn helps clients use technology to realise effective IT through the development of CSC’s infrastructure services portfolio. He has held a variety of senior architecture and engineering positions within CSC before becoming Global Offering Manager for CSC’s Storage as a Service and most recently Chief Technologist for Compute. Glenn lives with his family in the United Kingdom.

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