Do you remember the VCR? Not the actual hardware but the change that made? Once upon a time we were locked to the schedules of the TV networks. If you missed a show you had to hope it would come around again, later. There were many fewer stations and ultimately there were many fewer time slots and some things never really came around again. Then the VCR came and you were freed from the TV networks schedule. You could watch shows, replay shows and start recording shows in the middle to finish them later. The VCR changed home entertainment.
That change is nearly here in relation to information and information devices now. If you wander around Kickstarter or Indiegogo there are a number of projects that are trying to get the concept of universal translation off the ground. There are a number more trying to create secure home data shares. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Dropbox and Box all have interesting products that provide both cloud storage but also a means to an end. Enterprise sharing of data and cross group sharing handled by cloud based information stores.
I’ve complained for the past couple of years that in fact the information age isn’t here yet. My case is built around the reality of information. Once upon a time, 400 or so years ago, most people didn’t know or weren’t given the opportunity to learn how to read. The explosion of reading came right after the invention by Gutenberg of the printing press. More books available meant it was advantageous for more people to be able to read. The same is true today in the information world. The ability to deliver more information to more devices and in a rapid manner makes ubiquitous information possible. That is the darkness right before the dawn of the information age.
The VCR changed television viewing by taking control out of the hands of the networks and into the hands of users. The result is the creation of on-demand television services. The addition of the Internet and an easy to connect home viewing system made the on-demand services possible and they took off from there. Digital Video Recording or DVR’s changed viewing even further. You could now easily watch part of a show you recorded or live, and pause at any point. You not only controlled the time of playback but the playback rate. Channels went from local stations to all-sports and all-nature channels. 100’s of channels. On-demand services added even more viewing choices.
Information is in that incubation stage now, the one that television experienced with the VCR. The pupa of the future information butterfly is now formed. As the butterfly of information matures and prepares to leap forth into the brave new world, what does it need to succeed? It is beyond search. It is beyond information stores.
We need the VCR of information to launch the information age. Those Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects along with universal translation applications are a start but none of the translation systems are the VCR. The ability to capture information quickly and change control of the information. Today we remain in the expert system. Where a portion of the critical information needed to solve problems remains locked in the Locked PDF file, and tacit knowledge stores of experts.
How do we effectively record experts? To date the value of an expert has been the new ideas and new ways to solve problems. We’ve built an economy around the expert system. Experts and analysts are the one’s running around calling this the information age. Not the dawn, but the information age. Without actually considering the concepts of information flow.
What and how do we record experts? How do we quickly get good information from the napkin to the data store of the world? Over the past 50 years there have been many programs aimed at doing just that. Peace Corps (begun by John Kennedy) sent experts to places with the intent of building new systems and new experts. (thank you to all who served in the Peace Corps). But that was one to few or possibly one to quite a few, but not one to all.
We need to figure out the VCR of information. The game changer that forces the way things are, into the way things could be. A system that captures all information and shares it. Not at the schedule of the expert, nor in a locked PDF File, but freely and for all.
Until the door opens there is no light. Until the window opens there is no air. Until the VCR of knowledge there is not information age.
Information age decrier