Slipping gently into the age of ubicomp... Check out the Ambient Orb [via paranoidfish links]. A coloured globe fed by mobile phone infrastructure providing you with an ambient view of the stockmarket, of your inbox or any piece of information you can grab over the www. Ambient Devices don't just do the orb. The Ambient product catalogue mentions a key fob that glows when the traffic's better than usual to reduce commute time. This is what future was supposed to be.

And of course there's Microsoft SPOT -- running over a national (uh, American) FM network, it's a bunch of wristwatches squirting birthday reminders at your from your Outlook calendar. Um. Dan Hon already said this: closed gardens are rubbish. Give each device a url and let it accept events. Let everybody send events to devices for free if the service is free, or if it's a commercial service then Microsoft can take a cut. The problems when a single company owns the infrastructure and the service... I mean come on! Grow the market! Enlightened self-interest!

The future would be cooler - the future would be wicked - the future would be now - iff people weren't so fucking stupid.

Three tangential thoughts.

  1. It's a tedious refrain I know, but we appear to be converging on the right kind of model to think about this selective-broadcast model used by SPOT: emit and accept. Emit information without any thought to destination. Accept in your news aggregator which has an RSS shaped hole, data shaped list RSS; in your orb which has a stockmarket level shaped hole, data shaped like market level. And so on. And so forth. But like Sam Ruby says: "RSS aggregators may quite possibly be pushing the limits of the Internet by implementing a polling architecture on top of HTTP GET", so what to do? Maybe we'll end up implementing a distance-like metaphor on the network; maybe we'll implement clouds of virtual particles around data sources and sinks to negotiate connections before exchange bosons are swapped. Whatever.
  2. Actually this verbs thing springs another thought. Object orientation. Games especially, where a NPC or an object is its own code chunk, complete with methods. Or even events. I'm not sure this is a good model. In the real world, do objects really take verbs? A verb is a negotiation between me, the object and the environment. Where's the intelligence to choose the verb kept? It's the telegraph model again: signals, wires, connections, nodes-and-arcs. Not sure about that. Is communication really that narrowband? Isn't the only reason we use verbs to interact with computers that processing power places limits on the input bandwidth? A hammer doesn't take verbs: when I pick it up communication between me and it is wideband full-on surround sound hi-fi. Come to that, it's pretty human-centric to think that the skin is the outer boundary of complexity and it's all semaphore inbetween independent brains. Can't communication be just as information rich as people themselves? Stacks of bad metaphors all over the place here, holding us back.
  3. Dancing Bluetooth robots [via Gizmodo, thanks Matt Jones]. Which is so damn cool, so damn script them to dance when I get email, so damn walk around my desk and stand by my diary when it's a birthday and eat that you closed garden SPOTwatch, so all of that that it needs to be said again: Dancing Bluetooth robots! Soo damn dance in the garden like there's honey nearby and FUCK WITH THE BEES DUDE, FUCK WITH THE BEES.

Braindump over.