3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Age of Context: visionary, illuminating, picture of the future we're in,
This review is from: Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy (Paperback)A mark of how much I enjoyed reading Age of Context by Shel Israel and Robert Scoble was that I kept thinking of people I would be telling about it and to whom I would be happily recommending it, from some very savvy techheads, to business coaching clients, through business colleagues and friends who are interested in where the world is heading and the role technology plays in that, and in how their lives and the lives of others will be changed in the process.
Also, and significantly, I'll be telling anyone I know who might be interested in how some amazing technological advances can help us as individuals gain progressively more control of our health and wellness. Advances that some companies that do well financially out of current systems and procedures will not be welcoming!
The big impact for me was how the book brought together in one coherent picture what I had been seeing as rather disparate, albeit related, technology developments. It's a picture of convergence of mobile and cloud technologies, or more specifically of five components: mobile devices, social media, big data, sensors and location-based services.
It gave pattern and direction, and an array of real life examples and stories, to what I think of as the future we are in right now - exciting for some, scary for others, and a bit of both for everyone in between.
Scoble and Israel are clearly in the "excited" camp (as I am). But I wouldn't call the book's tone boosterish in any way; more like bullish-with-caveat. They make no secret of their enthusiasm for new technology and the good it can help achieve, from saving lives, through having services tailored to our personal needs and actual physical locations in real time (e.g. the Uber app), to renewing cities that have fallen on hard times. They give plenty of examples to support their enthusiasm.
At the same time, they acknowledge clearly the very real and justifiable concerns many people have about technology and its impact on our lives, especially when it comes to privacy. Thankfully, they do not attempt to proffer any quick fix solutions to these complex issues, although they do suggest some practical approaches to mitigate the negative effects.
I liked their encapsulation of the privacy dilemma: "The marvels of the contextual age are based on a tradeoff: the more the technology knows about you, the more benefits you will receive."
In the age of context there are lots of implications for how we can expect to be served as customers and what that might mean for companies too slow to adapt.
Similarly, there are implications for how businesses need to position themselves to be able to take advantage of the new environment. The authors propose that transparency and trustworthiness will make all the difference and that "...the most trustworthy companies will thrive in the Age of Context, and those found to be short on candor will end up short".
The book is very readable. Not light, more like elegantly clear, and for me somewhat surprisingly so, given the complexities underlying the technologies being explained. Art that conceals art. And I liked the historical references, for instance the mention of Apple's Newton, remembered as a monumental failure, but with core technologies that turned up in the iPhone in 2007.
Some words I jotted down to capture my feelings of the moment as I read were, in no order of priority or emphasis: visionary, explanatory, illuminating, practical, fascinating, exciting, smart, challenging, scary, witty, cautionary, freaky, inspiring.