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“We’re seeing the emergence of a connective web that is going to move us into more of a services-based digital environment, where you can create communities on the fly, where devices can recognize one another, discover one another, rapidly share content, and essentially
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be functional, anywhere, anytime. In the business environment, it’s driving decision making at a hyperrapid pace, with a lot less words and a lot more media as the essential content. For individuals in their personal space, that translates to ‘I can share with all the people that I love and who are part of my family and social unit, and no matter where I am physically, I feel as though I’m with them. I feel like I’m there and I’m experiencing the moment.’ ”
Kodak’s Jim Stoffel put the evolution of the ecosystem in this practical perspective: “The issue is that consumers don’t want to know if something is Bluetooth or WiFi or various forms of broadband interconnect, they just want the system to work reliably. Reliably means, ‘With my camera, whatever brand it is, I’d like to be able to walk up to a print kiosk and, whatever the equipment is inside the kiosk, push the button and get the prints.’ The business solutions are going to be driven by the ecosystem, not by our favorite standard. The ecosystem will determine ease of use.”
Mauzy, Bunch, and Stoffel all touched on a theme we’ve seen run through many of our conversations: How do we integrate all the data and media that we’re accumulating daily, in our business and personal lives, in ways that make finding and using that data easy and meaningful? How can all the information we create in the course of a business day—meetings, phone calls, e-mails, reports, presentations, field visits, conceptual work, casual conversations, web searches, images, sounds—be organized in the most natural, transparent, and useful way? Viewed from that perspective, the ecosystem is ultimately about enabling technology to become an experience-based resource.
That is where the notion of an ecosystem—where information can flow freely across products and systems—finds its necessary complement: smart data. The logical link for all the day-to-day experiences we have is our own personal data trail, and the smarter we make our data, the more we can integrate it into a coherent, accessible resource.
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The smart images described in our Clear Channel example provide “experience” data in the form of time, date, location, client, and product type, which connect directly to schedules, contracts, proposals, and project planning. With smart enough data, so to speak, an individual could instantly call up every asset related to a given project. The more the open standards of the ecosystem allow this information to be accessed and shared, the more powerful the individual pieces of everyday data become.
Philippe Kahn shared with us his thinking regarding the opportunities to obtain smart data from the ecosystem network that supports the most recent generation of mobile appliances: the camera phone.
“The interesting thing about camera phones,” he said, “is that they know many things because of their connection to the network infrastructure. We, as an infrastructure provider, know many things about the person using the device. We have a pretty good idea where this device is; in fact, we can tell where it is within a block. We have a pretty good idea where the device has been for the last week or two; we keep a history of that. So, if a particular device finds that it is at Monster Park (formerly Candlestick Park, the home stadium of the San Francisco 49ers professional football team), and it knows that sports are played there, and it’s probably football, it can look on the system’s server and see the schedule, so it knows who’s playing. When you take a picture and send it from there, a lot of metadata, information about the picture, can be attached to it automatically: the date, time, location, possibly the fact that the 49ers beat the Raiders in that game. This picture can be very intelligently annotated, and a lot of links can be created about this event. Suddenly, you have a much more interesting story than is being told by just going click, all done automatically. The more you help people create a rich environment automatically in this area of personal-content
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creation, the more interesting it gets and the more valuable these devices get.”
Kahn continued, “There is a lot of information that comes from the fact that these devices are always connected. They know where they are; they know what’s around them; and they have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing. They know where you work every day, so they know that a picture taken at that location is a work picture. They would know, by looking at your calendar, that that picture was taken at the sales luncheon to celebrate the Salesman of the Year. So that picture, shared through the office, gets an interesting annotation.