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The future of print is digital – and its here now

Esquire Magazine's eInk cover

So I finally manage to get my hands on the latest October issue of the American version of Esquire Magazine that hosts the world’s first eInk cover, with moving words and flashing images.

The 75th Anniversary limited edition issue of Esquire Magazine seems to be as rare as hen’s teeth as my colleague scoured the streets of New York to apprehend me a copy and then FedEx it over to me.

Electronic Ink (eInk) is what this is apparently called and the cover has a couple of little paper thin screens, along with a circuit board and battery between the fold. Apparently they cost about $12 each to produce, but this will dramatically fall in price very soon as production ramps up. You can find out more here.

Ford chose to be the first advertiser to take advantage of this new medium and have an animated lightshow behind a photograph of their Flex vehicle on the inside cover.

In truth it looks more like an animated gif then full-on video, but you can imagine a box of Frosties have Tony the Tiger screaming ‘They’re great’ from cereal boxes in Tesco’s before long.

No doubt full on video and audio followed by wireless connectivity will enable us to have magazines of the future fully animated and updateable and will offer a whole new concept for online publishers. One thing’s for sure, our world is changing at an alarming rate.

Whilst we wait for that, and for the rest of you unable to get your hands on a copy, here’s a short video overview of my latest prize possession that you can fully expect will accompany me to every presentation here forth… well, until the battery runs out (in 90 days!)

Hmmm, maybe I should keep it in the fridge to preserve it?!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPvWatDFjX0]


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The freedoms of the British people are in real danger

Sir Ken MacdonaldSo no sooner do I write the previous post saying we need some check-points in this fast-paced evolution into the cyber-world of SkyNet, then I pick up the Evening Standard and read that the UK’s top prosecutor is also concerned at the rising tide of technology usurping the British people by giving away ‘enormous’ levels of power to those in charge of running the country.

Speaking in a lecture in London, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, warns that a “relentless pressure of a security state” is giving grounds for the government to push an increase in surveillance powers that will ensure “freedom’s back is broken”.

His fear for the British public is justified. The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, only last week was pushing for all public communication – every phone call, SMS text, email and web browsing habits of every citizen to be ‘stored’. What then would be a ‘private’ phone call?! It is a total insult of the 99.99% of the general public assuming we are all terrorists.

Concerned of how the state may use these powers and fearing that once change is implemented it will be irreversible, he says “we should take very great care to imagine the world we are creating before we build it. We might end up living with something we can’t bear”.

With patriarchal confidence and sensibility, he suggests we should resist the ‘paraphernalia of paranoia’ and ‘medieval delusions’ when dealing with the real threats of terrorism. Sir Ken suggests the best way to tackle the danger was to strengthen institutions and processes of law rather than degrade them, stating the “conviction of terrorism is in excess of 90% – unmatched in the fair trial world”.

It s good to hear of such sound and grounded advice rather than the usual freak-show of surveillance-junkies based on a grossly hyped-fear that the government itself has created by its cotton-wool nannying wrapped up in supposed political correctness. It all comes back to the old adage, ‘who is watching the watchers?’ Fortunately, for now, someone is…

I find it ironic that as politicians remove discipline at all levels within society and simultaneously fail to preserve any kind of traditional culture, they should be so eager for developing such ego-centric systems that give them unparalleled and unchecked levels of control designed to protect them from cultures they have failed to embrace and understand.

Makes me wonder how Churchill would write his “History of the English-Speaking Peoples” today? He’s probably turning in his grave…


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The next 5,000 days of the Internet

We were reviewing Kevin Kelly’s “Predicting the next 5,000 days of the web” today in the office. He is the founding executive director of Wired magazine and he discussed at a TED conference the next wave of the Internet and how he sees this progressing.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDYCf4ONh5M]

My own version in terms of looking ahead was actually my very first blog post back in 2006 called “The evolution of the web?” when I first thought about the enhancements but potential pitfalls to modern day life which formed the discussion around this blog.

Interestingly I found Kelly’s talk more like a preacher’s sermon, and certainly the vision he was painting was more akin to a scientific-based religion. His call for progression was basically a call to submission – of all your rights to privacy and ultimately everything that is intrinsically human – in order to be plugged in.

Now as a digital evangelist myself I am not one to suggest we all go and live in a Hamish community and fear technology, far from it, but neither am I prepared to blindly walk into a new world where have relinquished all control to this technological beast and sold my soul to the highest bidder. I am first and foremost a human being. This ‘angel of light’ is a mere distraction from a potential evil that unfortunately permeates the very moral fibres of society and no amount of silicon-gloss veneer will answer a deeper call to protect society from our own worst enemy, i.e. ourselves.

When human kind is reduced to merely evolved DNA strands and a series of bits and bytes to serve a utopian technological goal, we reduce the essence of what it means to be human – to be allowed to be creative, to form free expressions and be socially interactive but complemented by personal moments of privacy – to mere slaves to a system which inevitably will have some fat controller at the helm. Every ship needs a captain and in this case, left unchecked, we will find ourselves with a completely excusable way of allowing certain individuals to play God and to get a little ahead of themselves.

What Mr. Kelly seems to forget in his vision of advantage, is that it is not the super-computer brain that will be in control, but the people who will utilise this technology for their own advantage and self-gain. History unfortunately does have a way of merely repeating itself. After all we are dealing with men, and power just can’t help but going to people’s heads. I am sure IBM never foresaw what would become the logical use of their computer invention… well, initially…

Without balance, decisions will be made in a seeking of this perfect utopia, and the cyber-crime that will ensue will spiral more and more control to the system, and ethics and morality come to be seen as some kind of historic notion with no relevance in the modern world. Just look around you right now and notice how this fear of the neighbour next-door pushes governments to adopt technology which basically assumes everyone is guilty until proven innocent. It is totally out of proportion to the level of crime committed and is just an excuse for a nanny-state which serves whose ego exactly?

If this is not monitored and controlled we will find ourselves whipped and hoodwinked by a media frenzy where all common-sense goes out the window, and those seen to challenge or bucking the trend will be sidelined or completely eradicated. This after all is what Hitler ultimately did, facilitated by technology, and it is against this logical conclusion where I passionately scream “I am not a number!” Whether tattooed by ink or a micro-chip, ultimately those numbers will equal slavery as I have discussed before.

The Future of the InternetThe end can never justify the means.

As for me, I am off to buy Jonathon Zittrain‘s “The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It”.


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