Digital pebbles

Clarke Mulder Purdie on PR, media and other random topics

The ‘hyperconnected’ world

Posted by Graham Hayday on October 19, 2007

This blog’s been a bit quiet this week, largely because I’ve been busy working at an event for one of our clients – we do the PR for Imago, the organisers of IP’07 (et al).

For this event I donned my web 2.0 hat for them and set up an IP’07 Facebook group, Twitter feed and blog. Indeed I blogged some of the conference sessions live, which was an interesting experience. It’s not something I’d ever done before, even in my former journalist days.

I was a little nervous about doing this beforehand, as my position as a paid hand meant I wouldn’t be able to be at all critical of any of the conference speakers. As it turned out, I didn’t need to be. They were all pretty good (honestly), and the client was brave/foolish enough to give me a free hand. They didn’t vet anything I wrote.

True, the blog is a little ‘unbloggy’ (it doesn’t have my name on it so sounds very impersonal, and isn’t exactly a link-fest), but I still reckon it worked. It certainly attracted a surprising amount of traffic during the two days of the conference and generated no rude comments. Has anyone else done this sort of thing for a client? I’d be interested in hearing your take on it if so.

But I’m not here to write about that. Having spent so much time recently learning about, and experimenting with, the potential of web 2.0 as a communications platform, and having read so many blogs extolling the virtues of all the new gadgets and gizmos we have at our disposal these days (yes, I really want an iPhone – how dare O2 refuse to offer it on our business tarrif until March 2008 at the earliest?), it was interesting to hear from the people who are plumbing all this stuff together – the telcos, mobile operators and network equipment manufacturers of this world.

Nortel (which falls into the latter camp) kept mentioning the concept of ‘hyperconnectivity’ throughout the show. It can envisage a time, not far into the future, where billions, if not trillions, of devices are connected to ‘the network’.

Mobile phone penetration is running at 103% in the UK. Pretty much every desktop PC is online. Most laptops are. The new breed of games machine is networked. Fridges soon will be. Nike is embedding microchips into its trainers so runners can log their performance. Cars will soon be communicating with garages wirelessly. The list goes on.

This is putting the Nortels of the world under increasing pressure to come up with ever better ways of transporting all this data, in a wireless and wired world. There are standards battles raging as a result.

One thing Nortel said at the show really brought home the potential problems that lie ahead. It believes that if only 5% to 10% of existing mobile phone users in the UK got serious about using their handsets for video, the whole 3G network would collapse.

So unless ‘4G’ comes along pretty soon, the vision of a world where we’re all ‘citizen journalists’ and uploading loads of video to BBC News Online, or sharing clips of our babies and pets with each other via our mobiles, will remain just that – a vision.

It’s good to get a reaity check from time to time from the people who make ‘the network’ work. They may have a reputation for being a bit nerdy and dull, but these people are kind of important.

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