How are things changing?
If you want an official Australian Government version, read Top Six Trends in Communications and Media Technologies, Applications and Services – Possible Approaches produced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority in March 2008, but only released this month. The ACMA is Australia’s regulator for broadcasting, the internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications.
The trends identified were:
1. Accelerating pace of change
2. Diversity in physical infrastructure and higher-speed broadband networks.
3. Distributed connectivity
4. Emerging content and network management technologies
5. Web-based services and the emerging “social web”
6. Continuing scientific and technological innovation
The report authors seem strangely comfortable when they talk about wires and gizmoes, but when it gets to the more slippery areas of social networking, they seem to want to just define what these things are and then run away as fast as they can. Maybe these topics are outside their brief. Sentences like this, however, do have me scratching my head in puzzlement:
SNS [social networking sites] may evolve over the next five years to become integrated hubs for individuals, organizations, and their extended networks to connect, communicate, access and share tailored news, information and entertainment
*May* ? *Next five years* ?
It was clear that they were also uneasy about those crazy kids and their mesh networks :
. .. in a self selecting community of mesh users, it may be difficult to distinguish between public and private communications over a mesh network. Individuals who set up and/or use mesh networks may not be fully aware of the consequences or risks associated with open access arrangements.
Those Wacky Kids
If you want a much more entertaining look at how things are changing on the education front, check out Mark Pesce‘s recent presentation to a group of educators in Brisbane: Those Wacky Kids . It looks at the effects of having a hyperconnected bunch of people – many, many of them under 15. I like this slice of life of a schoolkid:
These “hyperconnected” and ever-more wacky kids get up in the morning, put on their uniforms and go to school. When they get there, they’ve got to turn off their mobiles, put away their iPods, close the chat windows, unplug themselves from the webs of co-presence which shape their social experiences, sit still and listen to teacher.
And they’ve got to do this inside of an environment – the classroom – which is so thoroughly disconnected from the rest of life as they have always known it that it must, deep in their co-present souls, resemble nothing so much as a medieval torture chamber. An isolation tank. Solitary confinement.
It’s not just that school is a pain in the ass. It’s that it looks – to them – like a completely unrealistic pain in the ass, one which is out of step with the world beyond the classroom walls. It’s as if, every morning, these kids are marched into a time machine which transports them back to 1955.
Hyperconnectivity in the workplace
If you want to find out more about the effects of Hyperconnectivity on the workplace, you could read the paper that telecommunications company Nortel commissioned, the Hyperconnected: here they come (May 2008). It does, of course, try to lead the reader to conclude that they need products just like the sponsor provides – but if you can get through all that, it’s quite useful. If you don’t want to give them your email address in return for reading the paper, you could still glean much of it from this ArsTechnica article: No off switch: “Hyperconnectivity” on the rise . Snippets from the report:
- 16% of the workforce is currently considered “hyperconnected” , with a further 36% to come very soon.
- Reliable infrastructure to keep these people connected will become critical
- The boundary between work and personal is slipping
- Hyperconnectivity in the hands of the workers will have great productivity gains, but can also put sensitive company information at risk
- 60% of the Hyperconnected are under 35, and only 7% are over 55
- 60% are male
Finally – hyperconnected friends, enemies and armies for action
There is some strong language.