Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Negroponte on WiFi

EE Times: MIT prof critiques Europe’s wireless efforts. The “big deal” Negroponte was keen to stress was that the emerging world of ad-hoc, peer-to-peer wireless networks will lead to a world of intelligent devices that will in fact serve as a network. “For years, we have been saying we can get the intelligence from the network, but we have not thought of these devices as being the network…” [Tomalak’s Realm]

I always liked Nicholas Negroponte. I read his book Being Digital while in law school, and it was the first time I really gave thought to “meta data”. Negroponte’s comment (not necessarily original, but he gets credit from me ‘cause that’s where I read it) was that in the future, it won’t be the bits that matter – it’ll be the bits about the bits. In other words, the more we know about the information itself, the more likely we’ll be able to act on it, be smarter about it, and learn from it.

I like this notion – a lot, actually – because it forces you to be more effective in your interaction with any machines. Think for a moment – do you have a standard file naming convention? How do you categorize your information? If you were to vanish tomorrow, would anyone be able to quickly sort through your digital data and make sense of it?

Dealing with structured data is as much art as science – and thinking about Negroponte’s “bits about the bits” is as good a way as any as starting down the path of learning how to manage knowledge.

Oh yeah – and his comments about Europe’s efforts with 3G and WiFi systems are insightful. I knew I had a point in there somewhere…

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