The WiFi jungle in front of you? Look behind the surfing billboard!

by Guy Kewney | posted on 17 June 2004

The future of communications? Never mind the modulation schemes! - what about the advertising?

Guy Kewney

You would expect that the joined academic ranks of the University of Cambridge England, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (in Cambridge, opposite Boston, USA) would give you some insight into the future of comms.

You'd be wrong, probably; what you'd learn would be "the future of comms technology." Not quite the same thing, I felt, when I was invited to the announcement of the Communications "KIC" or Knowledge Integration Committee, the CII, or Communications Innovation Institute, at a meeting at University College, London this week.

They talked about teleportation, telepathy, and other remarkable ideas. I particularly liked the guy from Cambridge (England) who asked whether home storage might not be the ideal place to keep the world's data, because everybody laughed at me ten years ago when I suggested the same thing.

But, as I summarised in my eWeek column, I think there's more to it than that.

The column, if you read it, complains that providing wireless Internet isn't a trivial detail, an administrative chore. It's part of the future.

"The future of communications is actually the point I started out with here: advertising," the column concludes. The future of comms is the future of advertising. If you're studying bits and fibre and modulation schemes and mesh configurations, great!—but that's all known stuff.

Where the mystery comes in is how it all gets financed, where the revenue streams come from, how sponsorship and promotion can be leveraged.

That's not just a stone at your feet. That's the jungle in front of you. And the horizon you see? I suspect it's actually a billboard advertising Hawaii holidays.

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