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Understanding the future of technology used to be a simple science. You kept an eye on scientific journals, visited the odd corporate R&D lab, and kept a close watch on the price/performance curves that indicated the falling price of computation. These days, unfortunately, the greatest source of disruptive innovation often comes from consumers themselves - which is why some of the world's largest companies are investing in specialist research divisions run by savvy anthropologists. One of the most influential of these new breed of innovation gurus is Genevieve Bell - who is the chief anthropologist at Intel Corporation.
Google Apps - Never Delete Anything
In this episode we meet Johar Alam, founder of the IDC Indonesia and known by many as the father of the Internet in that country. Apart from his pioneering achievements in bringing his country onto the Web, he also happens to run what is quite possibly the world's coolest data center.
How long will Japan continue to drive technological innovation? For years I have made my pilgrimage here to see the next generation of the cool, the shiny and the super-advanced. Lately, I'm no longer sure. Hanging out in Tokyo is always a strangely mesmerising experience. Like some alien artifact, the city itself is both impossibly futuristic and yet beguiling in its retro contradictions. Beneath tomorrow's gleaming skyscrapers glide yesterday's Toyota Crown taxis, with their 'SuperDeluxe' badging and white lace seat covers. It is a striking contrast. Amid the neon billboards and blinking red lights of rooftops, the freakish and the familiar blend with equal aplomb.In a small outdoor cafe in Shibuya, I caught up with Dr Serkan Toto - who is Techcrunch's Tokyo based correspondent on all things Japanese, mobile and gadget wonderful. We had a terrific discussion about the local market, and a few things resonated with me. Firstly, mobile. With its tiny advanced phones, QR codes, e-wallets and content ecosystem - Japan has led the mobile world for the last decade. That's starting to change. The iPhone, which borrows so much from Japan in its design and execution has, after a slow start, managed to now take nearly 5% of the local market with an estimated 3 million phones.
As any good librarian knows, classification is a hell of a tough job. Clay Shirky puts it well - you have to be part mind reader, part fortune teller. No matter how clever a taxonomy of subjects you come up with, second guessing search behaviour let alone the future development of new topic areas makes the job near impossible. Dewey had it easy.
Blogging, podcasting, mobile picturing taking, file swapping – lately you might be forgiven for wondering whether there is any limit to the technology bandwagons consumers will happily jump on. Yet there is method to their madness. In the main, technology has stopped being the calling card of myopic ubergeeks, and become as embedded in average people’s lives as the TV or telephone. Forget applications. It’s all about appliances.
© 2013 Tomorrow Limited