When I’m asked to give a talk about technology I like to pull out my iPod Touch, wave it at the crowd and point out that ‘in the future’ it will be a supercomputer with parallel processors and terabytes of storage.
Well, it seems the future has arrived rather earlier than I imagined, as a new service called ‘Oosah’ has just started offering a terabyte of storage for the iPhone/Touch ‘in the palm of your hand’.
On closer investigation it seems that they aren’t ripping the case apart to install some cool new quantum-effect anti-matter memory that has just emerged from the labs, which is a shame.
Instead they have a website that gives your phone access to remote data when you’re on the move and lets you copy files back and forward. As long as you’ve got a signal or a wireless connection you’ll be able to play music, watch photos and read documents as if they were local.
We journalists like nothing more than a forthcoming apocalypse, especially when it involves something that most people don’t properly understand. It’s easy to frighten people with talk of ‘superbugs’ or argue that when the Large Hadron Collider is turned on it will create ‘strangelets’ that will destroy the known universe, and even if the stories are more speculation than fact you get a good headline and lots of interested readers.
It has got a lot harder to write this sort of story about the internet over the years as more and more of us are online from home, work or school and have some idea about how the network operates.
You can still get a good ‘internet meltdown’ headline out of projections that show we’re using up all the bandwidth and filling up our network with spam – I’ve done it myself.
But it’s even better if you can focus on aspects of the network’s core architecture that few users ever notice, like the unique numerical addresses assigned to every internet-connected device and the complex mechanisms used to move information between those devices.
And if you’ve got an authoritative report from an international body calling for something to be done then you’re on to a winner.
The House of Commons Culture Media and Sport Select Committee recently issued a call for more regulation of online content, and I wrote about it for Index on Censorship
It would be nice to think that the latest call to ‘do something’ about online content from the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee was grounded in some new development that made it trivial for websites to identify adult-oriented content, an online identity system which reliably linked social network profiles with age verification for all users, or the release of a user-friendly but unbreakable watermarking scheme that could identify copyrighted material whenever it appeared on an Internet-accessible computer.
Because the alternative would be that a bunch of MPs has decided the best way to get some publicity at the start of the summer recess, when newspaper editors are starved of ‘serious’ stories, is to announce that the Internet is like the Wild West, and children are constantly exposed to unsuitable material on YouTube, reveal intimate personal details on Bebo and surf the web looking for pro-anorexia or suicide support sites.
I don’t really care about the Olympics, but thought I’d have a look to see how well the broadcasters were doing with their online coverage. Having spotted this interesting comment on news.com I followed the link, installed the latest Silverlight, restarted my browser and…
So good to see the IOC understands the global importance of sport… and making money out of it.
The computer manufacturer formerly known as ‘Apple Computer’ changed its name to Apple Inc. eighteen months ago, reflecting the growing importance to its profitability of consumer gadgets like iPods, shiny toys like iPhones and of course music sales from the iTunes Music Store.
It was a sensible move, since the real money is no longer in powerful multi-processor servers for high-end graphics, video and music production but in laptops for the Vista-resistant masses, phones to keep workers connected to corporate servers and music devices for the kids.
Being a cool brand really helps in this, of course. Apple’s reputation may be built on high design, functionality and usability, but a big part of its current success comes not from the quality of its products but careful control of all aspects of the message.