January 30th, 2014 By Jack Morton
In what is my inaugural post of the Jack Blog, I may already be late for the party.
2014 has spawned numerous tech trends and predictions for the coming year, as well CES – and I’m not going to rehash what was unveiled there. You’re all intelligent folks, you’ve read what you need to know.
What no-one could have predicted was Google shelling out a cool $3.2 billion for the NEST Thermostat (and it’s smoke alarm sibling).
NEST has long been the ubiquitous device used to proclaim the warning of the Internet of Things (IoT), and the star of many a Powerpoint presentation on the subject. In response, there’s not a week that goes by where we don’t see a genre-defining-device unveiled by a hip, new StartUp on Kickstarter. In fact, one of those Spark have even released an OpenSource alternative.
The reason why NEST remained the go to Poster Child for IoT is that it was not only beautifully designed (in no small part thanks to it’s creator’s ex-Apple status) but that it bucked the trend of Internet-only available devices by getting itself onto the shelves of American shopping-giant Target and in front of the mainstream consumer.
Ok, again. Tell you something you don’t know, ‘cause that was like so last week.
What got me was this. $3.2 Billion? Crikey! That’s a lot of dosh!
I mean where would Google get that kind of money? You know Google, the big friendly search engine, who own youTube and allow us to enjoy music videos, cats and ‘epic fail’ compilations at our desk, who provide free email and circles (and other shapes I’m sure).
I think we collectively labour under the assumption that the Consumer digital world is Free, and this is largely due to Google.
The very word has become synonymous with information. #LMGTFY Let Me Google That For You
So who paid for Nest? BIG Data? And who’s data is that? It’s yours!
Every time Google Maps asked to use your location, you were contributing to sellable data. Every banner served by DoubleClick, every video watched. KaChing. KaChing. KaChing. It may have been faceless, but you’ve already been defined by demographic, location, time, etc, and in business that information is valuable.
Okay, at the time that was more of a throw away thought. A modern Fact of Life. That is, until I stumbled upon a Trend Report by Frog which suggests 2014 will be ‘the year of technological kickback, when privacy goes mainstream and we take the reins on our own quantified self.’
Ooooo, I kinda like that.
Scroll further down in that article and to ‘The Consumer Will Own Data’. Annie Hsu postulates that “With companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter making billions of dollars from what is essentially aggregated and analyzed user data, there will be a counter-movement of user-controlled data ownership (and even user-controlled data monetization) growing stronger over time. To quote a colleague here, ‘‘If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer—you’re the product being sold.” 2014 will be the year of data reclamation!”
There’s some truth in that. but please don’t get me wrong, I love Tech. I love the Digital World. I love Freedom of Information, and I’m even in a tumultuous relationship with OpenSource code!
We’re not quite at the point that Google will morph into SkyNet and subjugate us all, but with the advent of IoT we need to be careful who is controlling what. Samsung recently showed an Evernote compatible fridge, and soon every appliance in our house will chatter busily amongst themselves like a Disney-film come to life. Marvellous! However, in the past week, we have seen reports from California-based security group, Proofpoint, that hackers broke into more than 100,000 everyday gadgets connected to the internet, such as routers, multimedia centres, televisions, and at least one refrigerator (stop laughing). These objects were then used to send more than 750,000 malicious spam phishing emails!
Time to pull the plug? Not at all.
Embrace technology, embrace change but at all times ‘Own’ yourself – don’t forget in this era of free information, you are the commodity. Understand that as fast as the world changes, and the methods that we use to ‘interface’ with one another and seek information, what doesn’t change is our need for ‘real’ connections, for narratives to make these relationships resonate on an organic level.