“I think in pictures. Words are like a second language to me. I translate both spoken and written words into full-color movies, complete with sound, which run like a VCR tape in my head. When somebody speaks to me, his words are instantly translated into pictures. Language-based thinkers often find this phenomenon difficult to understand ….”
Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures
We are undergoing a profound revolution in how we live in the world because we are experiencing revolutionary changes in how we see the world. Google Goggles and Glasses (Project Glass) are two remarkable products that are part of a long history of informing the mind’s eye. The tools we use to see the world are never passive: they quickly become mirrors to see ourselves and expand our metalives.
“That means that in the next few years (maybe much sooner), any camera that sees you will know who you are. You are your face, and your face is public. If not today, then very, very soon.” — Aaron Saenz
Your face is currently under renovation. You won’t see the change in a mirror, but looking around closely you may catch a glimpse of what’s happening. No longer merely the canvas where you express who you are, your face is now what semiotics terms a sign. What once was ‘yours’ exclusively today is “something that stands for something, to someone in some capacity.” This sign, your face, now functions as an interface—“a point of interaction between components … [in] both hardware and software.”
Face perception is so hardwired into our brains, it comes as no surprise that we describe social status in terms of face: saving face, losing face, face-off. Showing your face and owning it—owning the right to present it on your own terms, even to sell it if you’re blessed with beauty—is the height of personal empowerment. But our features are also the focus of emerging facial recognition systems that will significantly alter how we think of owning and presenting our faces.
In a recent TED talk, Blaise Aguera Y Arcas demonstrated what he calls ‘augmented reality maps.’ Blaise is an architect at Microsoft Live Labs. His mission: redefining how maps work online. For centuries a map has been a static document. In his book Ambient Findability, Peter Morville says, “Maps reflect and shape the beliefs of a community or civilization…. For many centuries, maps and mapmakers played a powerful role in defining the elements and edges of the known world.”
Here is a wonderful video from Pranav Mistry, discussing the latest uses of his Sixth Sense technology. Note that he gives this talk in India and that he is more interested in widespread adoption of the technology, bridging the digital divide, than in pure profit. Note too Mistry’s notion of objects as integrating the physical and digital worlds. This has widespread implications and value for many aspects of education and commerce, among others.
As part of a discovery process (What I’ve discovered on Twitter) started by the brilliant and peripatetic Venessa Miemiss, here are a few thoughts about the role of Twitter in our lives and Metalives. Many of these insights have their origin in my understanding and appreciation of James Burke’s, The Pinball Effect:
“Knowledge has many unforeseen and surprising effects. Like a pinball, a simple discovery in one area can—through necessity, intuition, or serendipity—connect with, bounce off, and redirect the course of another seemingly unrelated discovery made elsehwere in the world or at a distant time.”
“What I am in interested in is how we can combine the two worlds — the physical world and the digital world ….”
When I read those words by Sixth Sense inventor, Pranav Mistry, in the New York Times recently, I recalled an interview with author William Gibson who said in 2007: “One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real, the virtual from the real. In the future, that will become literally impossible. The distinction between cyberspace and that which isn’t cyberspace is going to be unimaginable.”
We are exploring a wide variety of trends from a Metalife perspective: how are we changing as we inter/adapt with a welter of new and evolving communication tools? From the larger context of our longer time frame, we are able to help corporations, hospital complexes, school systems, churches and others understand the massive change that we are experiencing today.
In this way, understanding Metalife trends helps these organizations to put change into a timely and useful perspective that is both challenging and empowering.