Home' Technology Review : August 2005 Contents 53
Together, these devices ensure that May eld is never out of touch with his col-
leagues or his family. For one-to-one communications, May eld says, he uses the Treo,
Skype s free VoIP ser vice, and the e-mail system built into Socialtext s own software.
To conduct company meetings and client calls, he uses the conference-calling services
at FreeConference.com. When he s at a convention, a hotel, or a rented meeting room,
he connects the Airport to the local network, which
creates his own Wi-Fi zone and gives him access to the
Web, Skype, instant-messenger software, and his com-
pany s always-on IRC channel. He also advertises his
whereabouts by registering his temporary Wi-Fi zone
with a ser vice called Plazes and by describing on EVDB
the events he s attending. He uses Movable Type and
TypePad to maintain multiple blogs, including one for
his employees, one for the public, and several restricted to his customers. He book-
marks interesting Web pages on Delicious and sends them out on his personal link
feed, titled "Linkorama." He reads the news and follows his favorite blogs using the
NetNewsWire and NewsGator RSS aggregators, which also supply him with regular
podcasts. Almost daily, he uploads photos from the Treo and the camera to Flickr,
where anyone can view his photo stream. He even has a dedicated wiki for his family.
Though May eld is a self-confessed early adopter, he isn t using all these social-
computing technologies just for the sake of being wired. They re "rewarding in all kinds
of ways," he says. He uses Skype to save money on long-distance calls; he announces his
location to increase the chances of meeting useful business contacts; he posts photos on
Flickr because he wants his family and his friends to know what he s been up to; and he
blogs because it s an e cient way to keep his employees up to date, care for his custom-
ers, and get his message out to the larger world.
And this, in the end, is what s truly new about continuous computing. As advanced as
our PCs and our other information gadgets have grown, we never really learned to love
them. We ve used them all these years only because they have made us more produc-
tive. But now that s changing. When computing devices are always with us, helping us
to be the social beings we are, time spent "on the computer" no longer feels like time
taken away from real life. And it isn t: cell phones, laptops, and the Web are rapidly be-
coming the best tools we have for staying connected to the people and ideas and activi-
ties that are important to us. The underlying hardware and software will never become
invisible, but they will become less obtr usive, allowing us to focus our attention on the
actual information being conveyed. Eventually, living in a world of continuous comput-
ing will be like wearing eyeglasses: the rims are always visible, but the wearer forgets
she has them on---even though they re the only things making the world clear. ■
Wade Roush is a Technology Review senior editor based in San Francisco.
43 Things (www.43things.com):
A collaborative goal-setting network.
Members list up to 43 life goals, then
consult others with the same goals for
encouragement and commentary. One
common goal: "Stop procrastinating."
Ourmedia (www.ourmedia.org): A free
repository for digital media such as video,
music, photos, text, and audio clips.
Ourmedia s backers, including the Internet
Archive, have promised to store users
files forever and provide unlimited
bandwidth for downloads.
Another collaborative calendar. Members
can enter the events they plan to attend,
comment on events entered by others,
and syndicate event listings to their blogs.
Phling (www.phling.com): A peer-to-
peer system that lets owners of Nokia
smart phones send multimedia "post-
cards" to their buddies, their blogs, and
their home computers.
Rojo (www.rojo.com): A hybrid news
aggregator, social network, and social-
bookmarking service. When a member
finds an item of interest, she can store it
and share it within her circle of friends
Wikicities (www.wikicities.com): A
free tool for creating community wikis on
any subject. One Wikicity, for example,
contains information on lucid dreaming,
while another focuses on economic
development in St. Petersburg, FL.
Operated by Wikia, a startup founded in
2004 by Jimmy Wales, cocreator of
Plazes: A Web service based in Cologne,
Germany, that allows users to set up new
"plazes"---representations of local
networks complete with pictures, maps,
comments, and lists of the people online
---wherever they go.
Always-on: Blog reader Daniel Barkowitz
writes, "This hands-on participatory back
channel even now pertains to the world of
college admissions. At MIT, we are
conducting our own social experiment with
blogging about the college admissions and
financial-aid process with our incoming MIT
freshman class. The experiment has been a
tremendous success, providing students a
much more interactive way to get their
questions answered and their issues
addressed. As the director of financial aid at
MIT, I walk around with my AIM channel
always open on my cell phone and
constantly am monitoring the blog for
feedback. Not only does the technology exist
to allow this, but the next generation of
customers is expecting it."
Being wired: Blog reader Pete Sulick
comments: "Are we taking the first steps
toward digitizing our lives, or is this just an
inevitably more efficient way to share
information, like e-mail, TV, the telephone,
radio, the pony express?"
COURTESY OF ROSS MAYFIELD
Links Archive June 2005 September 2005 Navigation Previous Page Next Page