(The last in my series of retroactive summaries.) Howard Rheingold spoke at Stanford on October 24, 2003. His talk, entitled, “Smart Mobs: Mobile Communication, Pervasive Computing, and Collective Action,” centered around several themes raised in his most recent book, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution. (AZ)
Rheingold suggests that there is a threshold for collective action, and current technology is causing us to approach and, in some cases, surpass that threshold. He cited many, many interesting examples, among them: (B0)
- The most recent presidential election in South Korea, where a web site that sent thousands of e-mails and SMS messages in the days preceding helped determine the outcome. (B1)
- The Howard Dean campaign. (B2)
- The observation that the personal computer became a tool for the masses in the United States when the price came down to one month’s salary of the average lower middle class family ($2,000-3,000). Rheingold then stated that wireless handhelds will reach that threshold on a worldwide basis (approximately $70) within the next three to six years. (B3)
Rheingold described a project that a friend from Microsoft Research developed. The friend took an IPAQ with wireless networking and a camera, and developed a bar code reader that would query the UPC database and then do a Google search on the product. Rheingold scanned a box of prunes in his friend’s kitchen, which resulted in articles on Sun-Diamond Corporation that raised questions about its environmental practices. What would be the impact of a tool like this if it were available on a wide scale? Such a scenario is not only possible, it is probable within the next few years. (B4)
One reply to “Howard Rheingold on Smart Mobs”
The friend referenced above is Marc Smith. His professional page is at http://research.microsoft.com/~masmith/ and a decent interview is at http://news.com.com/2008-1082_3-5065298.html.
He did a demo of the NetScan work at last years ETCon, and gave some discussion to the object scanning work, which is interesting but still a bit cuspy (though devices are finally proliferating, so the cusp is getting closer).