The Age of Context

The Age of Context
Authors: ,
Genres: Business, Technology
ISBN: 9781492348436

There are five converging forces that promise to change virtually every aspect of our lives: social, mobile, data, sensors and location-based technology. Together they form a new generation of personalized technology that knows us better than our closest friends and ushers in a new Age of Context. In this new era, our devices know when to wake us up early because it snowed last night; they contact the people we are supposed to meet with to warn them we’re running late. They even find content worth watching on television. They also promise to cure cancer and make it harder for terrorists to do their damage. This book explores those five forces using interviews from more than a hundred pioneers and examination of hundreds of "context" products as well as tackling the tough question: what does it all mean for privacy?

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About the Book

I recently had the pleasure of reading through Robert and Shel’s book and my first impression is, “wow, all this is really happening now?” The book is filled with fantastic stories about real-world companies enabling the “age of context” as we speak. From healthcare to mobile to cars and everything in between, Robert and Shel have “pierced the veil” of a world that is rapidly thrusting upon us albeit very transparently. We aren’t paying much attention to how much data is being collected, and how often, by the sensors that we have come to love. Our smartphones. Our Fitbits. The electronically-laden cars we drive.

Robert and Shel do a fantastic job of navigating us through a technology world that most people don’t even know exists (although, thanks to categories of technologies like wearables they are becoming more aware). They have done a fine job in categorizing this world and then filling the pages of the book with companies they haven’t just heard about…but with which they have visited and discussed.

Where the book lacks, in my opinion, is in more prognostication. Robert is a self-professed, and rightly so, tech guru. He’s paid by Rackspace to cultivate relationships with startups. Besides Musk and Andreessen, I don’t think there’s a more technology-connected guy on the planet. And so when I read it, I wanted more of that. I wanted to hear more of what might come next. Where might the “Age of Context” really change my world…and when?! That is lacking at times. The book, pulling us through this fantastic world, can sometimes gloss over the details we really want to hear. I hope that the authors will put up a website perhaps to provide more detail on some of the fantastic stories they un-earth and what they might mean for the future.

I also had issue with the book’s style. It is purely a personal preference but I sometimes found the prose distracting. There were so many details bouncing around that it became difficult, at times, to keep track of where I was in the “bigger picture”. I think the authors could have done a better job of connecting-the-dots and making it more of a cohesive ride through the “fantastic Disneyland of Contextual Technology” that they took me on when I cracked open the book.

But there is no doubt that I highly-recommend this book. It’s an E-ticket ride (sorry, stuck on the Disney references) in a world of technology that is hiding from us all…in plain sight. Thanks Robert and Shel for uncovering this amazing world and I look forward to frequent updates!

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