dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)
[personal profile] dagoski
I often have a dismissive view of many of the so called new information technologies.  Often they're just applications of technologies rather than new ones in and of themselves.  Much of the time, I fail to see the dramatic new vistas these techs offer because I know and understand the foundations too well.  They're just trivial database applications.  Geospatial metadata?  Bah.  I've been dealing with that since 1992 when I worked in ground control.  Unfortunately, that attitude misses the Big Deal that's changing the world.  True enough the tech is old and old hat for an application developer and all around info geek like myself.  However, due to spending years administering systems, I fail to see what people with vision do with them.  Case in point today.  I'm beginning the great LA apartment hunt.  I found a good locator service.  Once of the nice features they have is a Google Street view of all their advertised properties.  This is nice because it lets me eliminate lodgings in bad neighborhoods.  Being an LA native, I can determine badness by architecture and the overall look of the street.  Besides, after living in Philly, I have mad skills in neighborhood determination.  The real coolness, however, is that Google Street View moves.  You can virtually drive down the street.  I spent this morning looking at the commute to UCLA from various likely candidates.  This is so, amazingly cool!  I could check out the area surrounding the property and was able to make quick determination as to the viability of cycling from various points.  What astounds me after having lived away from LA for the bulk of my adult life is how much room there is on all the streets.  Many of the streets from Culver City/Palms/Mar Vista are arterial by most cities standards.  However, in LA, many of these are neighborhood streets.  They all have light traffic, generous shoulder and long expanses of sidewalk when either condition fails.  The only tricky bit is the transition form Overland Ave to Santa Monica Blvd.  Overland Ave seems to be the common denominator in many of these neighborhoods.  In previous years, there was simply no way I could find this stuff out without knowing someone familiar with the area.  The wealth of information available to me for a trivial cost in terms of connection dramatically shortened my apartment search and helped me make decisions I would only be able to make by actually going to the site.  This means that my Feb. Trip to LA is probably just going a formality to check the physical structure and sign a lease, leaving me with a goodly amount of down time.

This experience is an example of what Alberts called Power to the Edge.  In an age of cheap bandwidth and storage, the center of gravity for information exchanges has shifted to the edges of organizations and societies.  While this information was created and is stored in a central place, a Google data center, it is no longer actively distributed by an infrastructure which filters and packages the information.  That's left to a variety of entrepreneurs, activists, organizations and crafty individuals.  The invent new applications, draw independent conclusions and create their own insights.  This is a radical departure from previous, Industrial Age, paradigms of information distribution.  Even though it's a old and focused on military issues, David Alberts' Power to the Edge should be required reading for all information professionals.  He saw where we were headed very clearly back in 2001.

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dagoski: Emperor Norton I of the Bear State Republic (Default)

July 2011

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