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Context is Everything…and it Will Become Even More So

I’m old enough to remember reading 1984 a long time before we even considered it might be reality. In college, I typed papers on a blue Smith Corona typewriter with an eraser cartridge (really fancy stuff). The first year I was there, we had one shared phone on each floor of the dorm and couldn’t dial long distance without a calling card.

Smith CoronaWe’ve come a long way from the mid/late ‘70s in many ways but especially in technology. I first experienced a fax machine on a political campaign in the ‘80s. Today they’re like dinosaurs. And what are favorite tech tools today will be dinosaurs tomorrow. It’s really a fact of life. As a Baby Boomer it’s sometimes hard for me to imagine what’s next, and stay on top of the trends

Recently I was able to see a preview copy of a book that I believe will change how many of us feel. Richard Scoble and Shel Israel have teamed together again to write Age of Context. It was released yesterday on Amazon and I highly suggest you buy it to read this weekend. It’ll be WAY better than football. Some reasons:

  • Future technology concepts are discussed in ways regular people can understand and see the applications.
  • The authors share their fears and concerns at the same time they’re talking about the “cool” aspects of what’s coming…whether we fear it or not.
  • Shel Israel, like me, isn’t 25 so he writes from a perspective of experience in the world. So does Scoble, just not as much as Israel. I can relate to Israel as he speaks my language.
  • Many of us think we lost something personal with the internet. This book shows how technology is getting personal.

Reading the book, I came to better understand how products like Google Glass might help the world instead of just hinder conversations and relationships. I remain terribly frightened of the prospect of a driverless car but understand how the technology gets people like Scott Monty excited. The book also points to the possibilities technology can be used to make us safer when we are driving.

Scobel and Israel introduce us to the new urbanists, a young person whose cares and concerns are very different from mine. The new urbanist definitely has a place in our world but I hope he/she will understand the need for what I’ll call “new ruralists.” It’s frightening to think someone in an inner city doesn’t realize he needs farmers such as my younger brother to sustain himself. It’s a partnership and we all need to be understanding and listening to survive in this brave new world.

We all worry about what happens to our information as we share more on the web. Age of Context addresses this and the many ways we’re already sharing without really realizing it. And it discusses the ways “big data” could be misused, including suggestions for next steps. When I finished the book, I was, maybe naively, comforted that there are people out there thinking about how to protect my information at the same time they’re thinking about how to use it to improve my life.

So, as we all think ahead to what may be next and we do it from the standpoint of some anxiety, take a look at this book and see if you become excited by the possibilities. This Baby Boomer is definitely more excited.

Onward to the future where everybody knows your name…and lots of other stuff about you too.


Photo: Jennie Faber via Flickr, CC 2.0


By |2017-03-07T00:40:50+00:00September 26th, 2013|Social Media, Trends & Tools|4 Comments

About the Author:

Mary Deming Barber, APR, Fellow PRSA, runs a strategic communications consultancy where she helps clients understand how to integrate new media into traditional communication programs. Mary has counseled clients in Tacoma, Anchorage, San Francisco, Oregon, and Colorado for nearly 40 years working with a variety of food organizations, several agencies, and as a key team member on two successful US Senate campaigns. 


  1. KarenD.Swim September 27, 2013 at 5:08 am - Reply

    Mary, your post really got me thinking about the lens through which I view technology. I am also a boomer and have witnessed an ever quickening pace of technological advancement. Even as I embrace technology there are developments (Google Glass, fingerprint ID) that have made me pause to wonder if we were going too far. From your description, I am definitely going to add this book to my reading list.

  2. mdbarber September 27, 2013 at 8:56 am - Reply

    KarenD.Swim Thanks Karen. You’re pointing out exactly why i really liked this book. The technology really fascinates and scares me. The book helped assuage the scary feelings and embrace some of what’s coming. Still apprehensive but I think you’ll really like the book.

  3. shelisrael September 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Thanks for a great review and a photo of the first typewriter I ever bough new.

  4. mdbarber September 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm - Reply

    shelisrael No problem Shel. It was my first typewriter as well. I had trouble unloading it 8 years later when it was already worthless. I guess people forgot how “high end” the corrected cartridge models were. I’m glad you had the same one. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and hope sales go through the roof for you guys.

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