A year ago Intel demonstrated a small contraption that allows people to talk to each other – even if they’re not in the same room, without using wires or string. At the time we saw no possible use for such a device. Dogs, as we know, love fetching sticks – but this seemed to be much too fragile for robust outdoor activity. Intel called this the portable ‘tele-phone’.
But now we must mend our ways, shift our gears, and adjust our paradigms once again – for the concept has received a powerful endorsement from one of the dot.com era’s most lauded “thinkers”.
Clay Shirky, speaking at the O’Reilly ETech blogging conference, now thinks the ‘tele-phone’ will become an important part of our lives. It may one day be so affordable, he predicted, that even the middle class will be able to buy one. He sketched out a future of people talking into their portable ‘tele-phones’ as they walked down the street, or sat in their personal hovercraft. Phones would one day be so powerful, Shirky predicted, that they would even allow the user to play a simple naughts and crosses game, written in Python.
One day, wire-less Tele-Phones like this will be everywhere, predicts Shirky
Initially, warned Shirky, only highly Emergent People will be able to find a use for the ‘Tele-Phone’ – such as webloggers and Wikipedia contributors. But these are your typical “early adoption nodes“, he said, and soon ordinary people will figure out how to use the box.
The choice of name, initially puzzling, now becomes clear. ‘Phone’ is to do with sound and hearing. And ‘tele’ means telepathic, which is what bloggers are. So if you think of it as a “tele-pathic hearing device,” it’s quite easy to remember.
The O’Reilly ETech conference is famed for such forward, blue-skies thinking, so put aside your skepticism. And away with your doomsday predictions that the United States’ is failing to invest in its technological future by neglecting science education, and by promoting irrationality. Its future is surely fine; on the conference circuit, geniuses are everywhere you look – daring to think what only a couple of years ago was quite unthinkable.