Tom beat me to it

This is what I get for writing a blog, but not reading any. I've been talking about merging the physical and digital worlds and I knew I wasn't the only one doing it, but it's kind of embarrassing when I find out that someone so close to me in my social network had the same idea three years ago. Tom Coates' The Age of Point-At-Things totally beat me to it by three years. He was talking about his work with TV programs, but he knew that the implications went far beyond that.

But once you have decided what constitutes a programme episode then something really significant happens - you can give it a name, make it addressable, you can - for the first time point at it. Better still, you can move from pointing at something to glueing handles onto it. And once you have such a handle, then you can pick up the programme and throw it around and stick labels on it and join it together with other programmes with bits of semantic string. You've moved your engagement with the programme from only being able to look at it to being to manipulate it and do things with it. And there is almost no end to the things you can do once you've uniquely identified a television or radio programme. It's foundational. It's like there are two views of the world - the solid one around us and the Matrix-style flowing green lines one. In this second world, until you give a thing a name - until you can point at it in greenspace - it simply doesn't exist.


Now I know that the creation of universal and world-unique identifiers for things must seem one of the most tedious concepts or projects known to man. But I believe that it's fundamental to our technological development - and particularly our ability to take our ever-increasing computing power and increasingly interconnected appliances and merge them seemlessly with the environment around us. The greenspace of the Matrix needs to merge with the physical - they need to become indistinguishable. Until we can point at, until we can pick up, until we can handle, we will never be able to use these concepts around us effectively.


In this future world, all of our discrete objects (physical or conceptual) will be annotatable, or linkable to, referencable. Each 'thing' will be built upon in non-physical dimensions of data. And that final process of merging must start with addressability. It must start with identifiers.

Ulla-Maaria Mutanen of course went on to embody this idea in her ThingLink project soon after Tom's piece, but I'm happy I found Tom's clear and powerful articulation of the idea so that I don't have to recreate it. ;-) Thank you Tom and Ulla-Maaria!

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This page contains a single entry by Mike Kuniavsky published on March 2, 2008 6:01 PM.

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