Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Darn lucky to stay anonymous

American pop-art icon Andy Warhol once said: "In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes." 

Nik Dholakia, Professor of Marketing, E-Commerce and International Business at the University of Rhode Island, offers a new take: 

"In the future, we will be darn lucky to remain anonymous for 15 minutes."

Other insights from Professor Dholakia, include the following.

Through new information and communication technologies, "virtual life-worlds that are portable and always networked are becoming pervasive, persistent, and constantly malleable."
Global statistics back that up. According to the International Telecommunications Union, at some point in 2014 the number of active mobile phones will exceed the number of people on the planet. Russia, already has 1.8 times more in-use mobile phones than people. Brazil has 1.2 times as many. Importantly, those phones are increasingly smartphones, with full internet access. And, as everyone knows, the internet is becoming porous with social media and with early experiments in augmented reality.
To make sense of what is happening, says Professor Dholakia, a useful step is to "fly above the turbulence" and grasp the technological changes in terms of the social and political factors involved – in other words, to develop some co-ordinates, or "conceptual anchors". Dholakia's recent research, and that of several colleagues and students, has focused on doing just that.
Among the insights:
  • The "newness" of the new technologies is relative. Every medium already participates in the mobile, the social and the virtual. Film and radio, for example had enormous potential as social media and began as one-to-one and many-to-many media. It was commercial interests that turned film, for example, into a one-to-many, or mass medium.
  • Mobile has become the core global identity credential. More than a passport, a driver's licence or a national identity card, the mobile phone is becoming the universal ID credential. The new coming-of-age marker is when a child gets his or her mobile phone. More people worry about leaving their phone at home than their wallet.
  • Mobile is becoming an individuating, locating and enabling technology. The development of apps is very open and this is one of the more positive aspects of the mobile sphere. Many apps enable sampling, comparisons, ratings, curating, locating and more.
  • We are on the threshold of augmented reality. For more than a century the offline versus online distinctions held. Virtual realities were clearly identifiable and often immersive but quite separate and distinct realities. Now, with broadband hyperconnected mobile devices, we are entering a time and a space where these distinctions are dissolving. Augmented realities are emerging on a mass scale – but unlike the old video arcade games, and because of the individuating nature of the mobile device, they tend not to be shared realities.
  • Social media has added frenzy and fluidity to media fragmentation. Many countries have seen a shift from a one-channel universe to one of a billion channels or more.
  • Traditional trust anchors are disappearing. Social media lacks the regulating structures of traditional media, such as awards and industry codes of conduct. It will take time to come up with new, reliable and accepted ways to vouch, to verify, to endorse and to guarantee. This happens in all periods of technical upheaval. Developing new forms of trustworthiness is not the task of science, but of society.
  • The power of "meta-industries" is growing. The amount of stored data is increasing rapidly, but data transfer over networks is rising at an even faster rate due to the new forms of data, including hi-res video, being sent. Some countries, including those in Scandinavia, have introduced public policy measures to improve broadband availability. The growth in content produced by individuals is being rapidly overtaken by that produced by content delivery networks (largely commercial video providers). Machine-to-machine traffic is also projected to increase by 84% a year.
  • What any technology becomes depends on who controls it. Examples from across the world show how social, mobile and virtual technologies have been harnessed to improve lives and open channels of communication for previously excluded people. Some researchers are studying how new media can help us become what they call "produsers" and "construers". Unless we embrace such notions, they say, the consumer in us will continue to inflate, squeezing out our other life roles.
Professor Dholakia spoke about digital media at the Business School in July 2014 as part of the Dean's Distinguished Speaker Series.
The above was extracted from the UABS Network e-magazine, written by Vaughan Yarwood, Managing Editor.

For the full article, see this link

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