network

Estimote Stickers and the crumbs 2.0 of Tom Thumb

beaconsUp until now, our connection with internet has been active and receptive: we are the ones who decide when to connect, what to look for, whom to contact or simply when to check the news. We are active resources who use a global virtual system.
Internet is, from the interactive point of view, similar to our home phone. We contact or decide to answer to stimuli coming from other contacts, an autopoietic system whose confines have definite limits. It is necessary to use a device, an electronic device to be connected to internet, otherwise you cannot enter.
At the beginning such connection was possible only through a personal computer, a tool which still requires today, waiting times for power on and network connection. Subsequently, other devices came on the market, more immediate, such as smartphones and tablets, which can be activated in an instant and can be carried around in the pocket or purse allowing us to be often connected online during the day as many times as we want.
These devices represent only the first step to innovation, in the years to come new tools will permit us to mix, more and more, the real world with the cyber space.
The first tools which belong to this new generation are the already mentioned glasses. These glasses will increase our perception of reality adding helpful information such as: road signs, traffic data, medical information, other cybernauts’ comments on the restaurant or the hotel which we are interested in, danger alert or just the presence of one of our friends taking a walk in the vicinity and so on…
The reality will soon become a composition of real and virtual stimuli and situations.
The technology Bluetooth Smart or its natural evolution, it does not matter, will facilitate this interchange of information between our two universes, the real one and the virtual one.
In every shopping center, municipal office, school, library, coffee bar, cinema, etc, we will easily find small tools not only in condition to reveal our position GPS but also in condition to give us, immediately and consequently, potentially useful information.
The devices which have fulfilled this function up till now are the so-called iBeacon. The iBeacons are already active in all the American Apple stores; they are equipped to send to our own smart phone information concerning the device next to us, a kind of virtual salesclerk always to our disposal capable of explaining us the characteristics of the object of our interest.
Their use is even more important, although on an experimental basis, in San Francisco airport, in this case, the detectors intercept the passenger’s position and suggest to the blind and partially-sighted persons the direction to follow and the gate to reach, through the “VoiceOver” reader.
There are analogous experimentations in action or in progress among other international airports as well as in some subways, such as the one of London.
In short, a real tool, a small detector, crosses virtual lines with our (real) steps in order to provide us in real time (virtual) information on the surrounding real world. Obviously the promiscuity between real and virtual makes thinner and thinner the boundary between the two universes.
It is no coincidence that the literary translation of the term “beacon” it is “lighthouse”, because of the potential light that these tools can throw illuminating some aspects of our daily life.
This new technology reveals itself rather economical both in terms of installation and activation, around 20 dollars per location, as well as in terms of energetic consumptions for the devices that receive the information, for the time being smartphones and tablets, in the future smartwatches, digital glasses and who knows what else.
The last frontier is that of the “Estimote Stickers“, small sticky beacons, almost imperceptible which can be placed anywhere in order to allow the construction of uncountable virtual paths, unlimited situations in which our smartphones, smartwatches, google glasses,… receive additional information from internet.
The telepass, the ATM, the GPS receiver, the road signs on the highway, are all the precursors of this new symbiotic generation of tools. A surplus of digital information in a position to follow us step by step which is to be added to our social network. System that for some years already mixes real friendships with virtual friends met online.
Will we succeed in gaining from this jungle of virtual information?
Providing today useful information to blind persons is certainly an excellent result. Contrariwise, it is more difficult to hypothesize the effects of this bombardment of digital information on the next generations. There is a possible risk after all, useless to deny it, and that is ending up focusing a great part of our attention on digital contents, distracting it from concrete natural events.
But what I am sure of is that this technology will make enormous strides in the coming years because stimulated by the trading world which sees in the possibility of monitoring closely the consumer/user, the best way to incentivize a purchase.
We will become many Tom Thumbs 2.0 and in the deep forest we will switch on our smartphones and, thanks to the estimotes stickers positioned on every tree, we will easily find our way back home…

The website popularity, an ephemeral love between algorithms and culture

broken-heart
Imagine putting all our personal and cultural references in a large jar: photographs, books, notes, stories, poems, birthday and Christmas greeting cards, drawings made by our children when they were little and so on and so forth.
Imagine that, just after filling the jar to the top, we realize that the mouth of the jar is a bit tight, and therefore we can pull out only one object at a time. At this point we have to overcome the impasse and establish a picking rule, otherwise all our valuable objects will become unreachable.
Well, this is what happened on the Internet! Network has become our multimedia knowledge container, but not only that. So, while we were putting our information into the global container, we discovered that without the appropriate tools for research and without a network of relationship, the information was often unreachable. After all, how many times in the past the treasure map has been lost and with it the hidden treasure?
Today’ success of a search engine is a direct consequence of its ability to collect and display information from the network, which means, as I metaphorically mentioned above, to have the jar completely full. The search engine has to show this information in a logical sequence, but above all, it has to guess the user’s request basing its research on the few terms received from the user.
The increase number of information along with the increase number of people on network have placed on top the best web search engines, able to satisfy our demands less than in a few instants.  Over the top are placed the “algorithms“ as well as methods of calculation, everything designed by man and ran obsessively by computer. Computer able to judge by itself the information spread on network.
Among these algorithms probably the most famous is the “pagerank“. This algorithm is able to attach different importance to internet web pages according to their popularity, or, rather to the number of sites relative to these pages. Higher will be the number of sites that link to “our” web page, greater will be our popularity.
Today there are many other intelligent algorithms that analyze “our” web page from the point of view of contents expounded, from every single term used, from the frequency with which we update our content, from the profundity of navigation expressed by our portal / site / blog, from the interest expressed by the social network, from the cleverness of writing our page (title, subtitle, …), etc …
As happens in the real world, also happens in the virtual world: to reach a high popularity, means hard work. We must be well known by lots of network people therefore clicked, linked, posted, mentioned … And of course, same as in the real world, upkeep our popularity is extremely difficult, that requires efficiency and talent even for the most tenacious ones.
However sometimes the popularity generates further popularity without new strategies application … being on  the “front page” means being featured on the “global showcase“, selected and mentioned, and this will increase our ranking, as a result, our new location will bring us to the fore rising our ranking higher and higher.
The popularity on web, the climax of every blogger or writer, dependents on a selection process extremely rational, algorithmic, I dare say similar to that described by Darwin, a process of evolutionary selection, that assigns notoriety to those already famous, but not less interested in new, original, lasting forms of information and culture. We talk about a rational cynical process, unceasingly active, open to innovation, a “mutant”, sometimes complicated sometimes incredibly superficial.
Given these premises, who knows what kind of love will blossom between the ranking algorithms and our culture: a true one or just an ephemeral one?

Worldtwodotzero