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The End of Cyberspace

From Free Range Librarian:

The user is not broken. Your system is broken until proven otherwise…. The most significant help you can provide your users is to add value and meaning to the information experience, wherever it happens; defend their right to read; and then get out of the way. … Information flows down the path of least resistance. If you block a tool the users want, users will go elsewhere to find it. You cannot change the user, but you can transform the user experience to meet the user. … Stop moaning about the good old days. The card catalog sucked, and you thought so at the time, too. …

We have wonderful third spaces that offer our users a place where they can think and dream and experience information. Is your library a place where people can dream?

[Via All My Eye]

Technorati Tags: end of cyberspace, library, Web 2.0

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The End of Cyberspace

Leading candidate for «Best PowerPoint Title of the Year:» Networked, GPS-equipped Cows.

Proving as well as anything actor-network theory’s argument that the distinction between technology and nature is contingent and subject to change.

This from Slideshare, an interesting new service that’s essentially like YouTube for presentations— though Google hasn’t yet bought it for a zillion dollars.

Technorati Tags: agriculture, cows, end of cyberspace, geoweb, pervasive computing, ubicomp

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The End of Cyberspace

Interesting post by TheoLib on the future of libraries. Some key ideas:

  1. During the next ten years, the medium for information storage, discovery, and retrieval will become primarily digital.
  2. For many, digital media will also the media of choice for information use. A significant portion of users, however, will require a print on demand service to support the use of information stored in digital format.
  3. The concept of a library collection will either be redefined or simply become obsolete. Aggregators and publishers will continue to bundle multiple titles into single price packages available through license agreements. (Libraries have traditionally selected such items individually for purchase and permanent addition to a physical collection.)
  4. Publishers and aggregators will market directly to users, bypassing libraries. Information discovery tools the build on the technologies of Google, Yahoo and others will seamlessly index information available through open access as well as licensed materials.
  5. The primary pedagogical task for librarians will shift from collection development as a means of filtering information and providing quality control for users to helping users to develop the skills to filter and to critically assess the information they discover.
  6. The primary «technical services» task will be to build linking mechanisms that enable social network tagging systems to easily communicate with each other.

Technorati Tags: future, library

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The End of Cyberspace

Nicholas Carr says it is:

Dead as a buggy whip. I don’t mean the form factor of the PC; I mean the idea of the PC — the standalone, jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none box sitting on your desk or in your lap. That box is exploding into myriad devices, myriad services. What matters now is not features but tools, not complexity but simplicity, not coolness but usefulness.

One of the arguments I’ve been developing is that the idea of cyberspace was very PC-centric: that the character of our interactions with personal computers, and the ways PCs mediated our relationships between ourselves and the Internet, provided a kind of scaffolding upon which the idea of cyberspace fit very comfortably.

For most futurists, «the PC is dead» is about as controversial as «nanotech will be important.» It’s one of those starting-points for our conversations (which makes me a little nervous, as any comfortably-held assumption about the future should when you’re in this business); and part of what I’m working on is an argument about what kinds of relationships between people information, and places the PC-killers— the little mammals that overwhelm the dinosaur— will be possible when you have a swarm of devices, rather than one.

Technorati Tags: cyberspace, future, internet

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The End of Cyberspace

From Jonathan Schwartz:

[Oil companies put] sensors on spinning drill bits to extract seismic data, which then guides the bits as they descend into the earth (I had no idea you could actually steer a drill bit). And they do this on offshore drilling platforms. And after they pump crude into supertankers, they use data from sensors spread throughout the ships to monitor vibration, fluid dynamics and rotational physics — to keep the ships, and their precious sloshing cargo, moving safely in the right direction. I was similarly surprised to hear a global relief agency describe the IT challenges of managing a disaster — starting with a need to supply computing capacity to remote disaster locations without power. More painfully, without desktop system administrators. And then there’s what Disney’s up to, passing out trackable stuffed dolls to kids in their theme parks, so parents can follow them (as Scott would say, «that’s not Big Brother, that’s Dad…»). By tracking clusters of dolls, the operator can tell parents how long the lines are for a ride, and determine where to place concession stands (in front of waiting patrons, of course)….

All of the above are examples of putting computing closest to the source of value — and responding in near real time to a changing physical world.

Via Kempton

Technorati Tags: computer, end of cyberspace, internet

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The End of Cyberspace

Webcast of a talk Weinberger gave at Oxford last year:

The New Shape of Knowledge: From Trees to Piles of Leaves

The digital revolution is enabling knowledge to slip the bonds of the physical which had, silently, shaped it. Now we get to see its «natural» shape. What does it look like? How big are topics when they aren’t determined by the economics of paper? Who gets to organize it? What are the new principles we’re using to organize it? David Weinberger proposes that in the digital world, the most «natural,» efficient and responsive way to manage knowledge is to create huge, distributed piles of leaves, each tagged with as much metadata as possible — including treating the content as metadata — and postponing until the last minute the taxonomizing of the information. What will be the social effects as we move from trees to piles of leaves?

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The End of Cyberspace

  • The concepts «Web 2.0, the end of cyberspace, and the internet of things… have synergies both with the current fashion for modifying physical objects with the features of virtual objects…and with the potential technologies for collective intelligence.
  • «This study examines China’s current internet media policy in terms of the nature of the policy, the policymaking process, major forces driving the policy and future trends.»
  • «[H]ow has the Web‘s potential for communication and its accessible information infrastructure affected [knowledge workers’] strategies for acquiring and spreading professional information?»
  • Examines «the use of the ’cyberspace as place’ metaphor in the creation of the legal concept of ’cybertrespass’, examines the consequences of… that metaphor to the free flow of information on the internet, and evaluates alternative metaphors.»
  • «Five years ago Monday, Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod, the company’s most important product since the original Macintosh and one of the most successful consumer electronics products ever.»
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The End of Cyberspace

From Greg Matter:

I’ve commented frequently upon a central paradox of IT: software and hardware components are the products of fierce, high-volume competition, yet their final assembly by IT organizations is one-of-a-kind artisanship. To quote Scott McNealy, I’ve never toured a datacenter with the reaction «Wow, this looks just like the one I visited yesterday!»

We ought to ask why this is so, because it is supremely inefficient. Practically all IT organizations speak of the commoditization of computers, but seldom of computing. Partly, this is because computers and storage are simple to understand and quantify compared to the enormous complexity of their assembly into systems that deliver some (with hope, predictable) level of business service.

Technorati Tags: computer, end of cyberspace

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The End of Cyberspace

  • Special issue on media. «New technologies create new media, changing the distribution, consumption, and use of information and revolutionizing public consumption of information.»
  • Online bibliography of things related to cyberspace, maintained by the Air Force Cyberspace and Information Operations Study Center.
  • Web site for 1996 cinference on cyberspace.
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The End of Cyberspace

I had lunch yesterday with Nicolas Nova, who’s over here in the States for a couple weeks. At one point, we started talking about how the financial industry has (arguably) created the most sophisticated proto-pervasive computing network around: it’s got millions of access points, collects vasts amounts of data about its various kinds of users, and intersects with the real world in very tangible ways (you use it to buy stuff).

So, a question. Wealth used to be locked up in stuff: land, gold, this year’s crop, etc.. It was very clear how rich you were when all you had to do was count your sheep, or weigh your treasure chest. Wealth resided in things.

One of the key story lines in the history of finance in the last centuries has been one of increasing abstraction of finance from the real world. Some of the richest people in the world aren’t involved in the manufacture of things, but the manipulation (I mean that in a neutral, not sinister, way) of financial instruments, or the creation and ownership of intangibles.

Has there ever been confusion about where that value lives? Some wealth is still bound up in things, as anyone who lives in Silicon Valley knows; but a lot of it isn’t necessarily expressed in some physical way. If you buy stock, you don’t necessarily get a bundle of stock certificates. My 401k exists on a TIAA-CREF balance sheet (or more likely, in a database); my credit line isn’t something that’s in a vault; even the value of my house is somewhat abstract until I sell it.

Has there ever been a «cashspace,» some place where abstracted wealth was supposed to reside? If you asked financial professionals, what would they say? I would guess they’d say balance sheets and markets, or maybe that it really only exists during transactions— that the value of my stock is only a potential value until I sell it. And what about the rest of us? Where does your credit live? Where is your debt?

Technorati Tags: cyberspace, end of cyberspace, money, finance