Google’s Unification, IBM’s Smarter Planet; and Orwell’s 1984

17 May

So Google’s i/o conference was focused around Unification – one view across multiple devices/ collaboration/ convergence – call it what u may. I also read this really excellent article (highly recommend that you read it) at around the same time, which had the same concept – the programmable world.

This started around a decade ago when the smaller devices started talking to each other – I think probably the first avatar of this was Logitech’s universal remote – one remote that could operate most devices in the house. This was a truly good idea – took a real consumer problem and solved it.

Universal Remote

Then the devices started performing different functions – so your gaming console also became your internet screen, your TV also became your message receiving center, the radio enabled GPS etc.

The problem still was that you had bought different appliances as they got released for primarily different things – also, many a time the “secondary” function was not executed as well as the primary one, leading to a loss of user experience.

The big jump in this world of connectivity came when wireless came into its own. Made a network a reality.

The smartphone took all of this to the next level – and started gradually offering most of the potential applications from one screen. This also coincided with consumers becoming more and more addicted to the mobile screen – so it gelled well.

And ofcourse, now every appliance – many of them wearable (watches/ glasses) – is instantly sensing your movements – and telling the other what each is upto.

All very well, I’m sure. Apart from saving time and making everything easier, I see great uses in healthcare specially. GE is doing pioneering work in smart sensors and making huge savings in industrial production.

Big Brother

But I am reminded more and more of George Orwell and the Big Brother syndrome! Much like the “three stages of Winston Smith’s reintegration “There is learning, there is understanding, and there is acceptance“, there are 3 stages to this process – connecting, talking and then …hacking? (Imagine one “unperson”, thanks to the “Miniplenty” data available, hacking at it– and oops – there goes your privacy, “Minitruth” or not!)

Ironically, Steve Jobs, who’s brilliant 1984 Superbowl ad for Mac – aimed at IBM as big brother won him such accolades, must be smiling up in heaven – he partially helped create one version of unification – only, in his case, all the world is one – as long as it is an Apple world!

The good news (maybe) is that there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip. This degree of inter connectedness – or even a fraction of it – has yet to really manifest itself, and many a times hopes have been raised, only to be dashed to the ground again.

We’ll wait and watch – I don’t think it will take till 2084, but it certainly ain’t happening in 2014!

2 Responses to “Google’s Unification, IBM’s Smarter Planet; and Orwell’s 1984”


  1. The Power of 7 (or 77) ! IBM Big Data, Wimbledon, and B2B marketing | joshsang - July 10, 2013

    […] product – Apple/ Mac/ Superbowl comes to mind for this ofcourse! See my earlier related post here). If it’s an unknown company and u want to build traction very quickly, then you may want […]

  2. Digital / Social Transformation = CRM = Big Data (About Old Wine in New Bottles, Darwin and Levitt) | joshsang - July 26, 2013

    […] the whole unification piece arising out of networking -> convergence -> wifi. (I did write an earlier piece on this). The world view that arises from this is that of the super connected/ “always […]

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