The Contemplative Edge

Or the mental ramble that followed the Gigaom shutdown.

Try as I might I can’t remember when I first heard of Om Malik. In my mind he’s associated with names like Zack Exley, Micah L Sifry, Danah Boyd and Esther Dyson but that can’t be because they are in the realm of digital inclusion and empowerment and Om Malik is about cutting edge innovation and commercial reality. So when was it?

My first strong memory of GigaOm was ‘back in the day’, as everybody on the podcast keeps saying, when Chris Albrecht and Tom Krazit did the Gigaom Show. From there I began to listen to Kevin C. Tofel and Janko Roettgers on cord cutting and Chrome; then there was Derek Harris and Barb Darrow whose insanely bad podcast intros prefaced great in depth interviews on cloud and big data and finally my favourite, everybody’s favourite tech Mom, in reality the very clever Stacy Higginbotham (not forgetting her dog, her eight year old – who must be nine now – and her bemused husband). These people have accompanied me in the car, to the gym and around the house then all of a sudden there they were: gone!

I have chased around in search of information: I have checked Twitter feeds, I have read Howdy y’all Stacey Higginbotham’s blog on http://staceyhigginbotham.com , I have caught up on Mathew Ingram’s Flipboard pages Media Past and Future but right now these are like echoes; Gigaom has gone and I’m going to miss it.

Which makes me think: why did I like it so much? Entertainment apart it was a source of information, good, detailed tech stories. These I could reference in my own personal blog which was where I organised my thoughts. Take for example “Never Say Never” which I posted in February; it was Derek Harris who mentioned the NVIDIA Tesla K-series GPU Accelerators and it was one of Stacey Higginbotham’s guests, Hiliary Mason, of Fast Forward Labs who talked about algorithms which can sort millions of data items in just a few processor cycles. All of which made me think about our dependence on current cloud technology to make our smart things smart and yet technology moves inexorably to the edge. Isn’t there a future conflict of interest there? When technology allows Google Translate to sit on my smart phone without a data link or central processing where is Google’s business model?

My personal ramblings are not cutting edge, they are what I call contemplative edge. Now I’m no longer involved in digital anything as a way of making a living I don’t have to scan the tech blogs and news feeds for the latest thoughts and ideas but I still do because I have the space to think about these things.

Despite what you may have read or heard England is not a cutting edge economy. We survive on a service based economy with some manufacturing (we do very good very expensive cars) and we have a lot of people in minimum wage zero hours employment. There are a few, small innovative companies but on the global scale of things they are very small. We are digital consumers; our measure of digital inclusion is based on how much we consume and how many services we access. Right now the Internet of Things is only just emerging in popularist news stories. The Insurance industry has been complaining that smart vehicles will reduce accidents and also insurance premiums; how will they make money? The white goods retail industry has been sounding warnings that smart appliances will lengthen the replacement cycle and that will hit profits. I spotted a set top box only this week which advertised itself as being able to make your TV a Smart TV – nonsense but you can get away with that sort of thing in the UK because the vast majority of people are not digital savvy, they are just consumers which is all they need to be.

What has this to do with Gigaom? Like I said at the beginning these are ramblings. Gigaom brought insight into a fast moving, technically advanced, disruptive world. Without the likes of Gigaom we will understand less. While other tech blog sites will continue they will have that geeky edge that Gigaom managed to avoid which is what made its stories so accessible and because of that we are potentially less well informed. In a few months time technology products branded for the Internet of Things will find their way into UK stores and we will consume them, as we do. We will not pause to consider the infrastructure of the cloud, the implications of big data or the cul de sac of development into which we will be driven so that we can be Smart. Gigaom could never influence the actions of nations but it could, and it did, inform those people who wished to keep thinking about what all of this might mean.

Gigaom I will miss you.

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“Two households, both alike in dignity,”

Romeo and Juliet Act 1 Scene 1 William Shakespeare

 

While growing older may have given me a more considered view of life there are some things that even now will drive me into a rant. One such thing is people in responsible, public facing roles who grab a headline by stating the obvious. Take, for instance, Eddie Copeland Head of Technology Policy at Policy Exchange: http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/people/research/item/eddie-copeland . I don’t know Eddie but he has a blog http://policybytes.org.uk and an impressive CV ranging from being a Parliamentary Researcher, a Congressional Intern, and Project Manager of large infrastructure projects and so on.

His offense on this occasion is his recommendation, widely publicised in the press and on the BBC last Tuesday, that the Government should offer the elderly lessons in the internet to encourage them to ‘discover life online’. I know that this is a sound bite from the Policy Exchange Manifesto which suggests that £875m is the figure required to get the final 17% online but aren’t we entering into a world of unreality here? Actually I would challenge the idea that we need £875m to tackle the problem of the final 17% (approximately 6.2 million people); that’s £141.13p per person more or less – what’s the 13p for I wonder?

It’s not that I would deny people working in the field of digital inclusion access to a slice £875m it’s an agenda that’s very close to my heart and I do not for one minute underestimate the importance of the work; it’s the approach and the short sighted attitude that makes me so cross. This is a technology manifesto intended to influence Government policy and the headline grabber is get older people online to help with problems of loneliness.

Contrast this with the interview on Giga Om with Usman Haque on May 20th just one week earlier: https://gigaom.com/2014/05/20/thingful-wants-to-crawl-the-internet-of-things-but-is-this-the-right-model/ . Usman Haque also has an impressive CV he is a founding partner of Umberellium http://www.umberellium.co.uk , founder of the Internet of Things data infrastructure and community platform Pachube.com. He is an architect, creates responsive environments and dozens of mass-participation initiatives in cities, festivals and galleries throughout the world.

His view is that being on line empowers people and gives them the opportunity to take control of their environment. He is interested in how cities can talk to people and how people can interact with where they live. While there is a view that you have to have the skills before you can interact – a little obvious – that view misses the point. If you are setting out policy you are driving something forward not focussing on remediation of the obvious problem. If the vision for the future is realistic and enticing then the means will be found to redress the issues but if the focus sets out that we have to do A before we can progress to B then we may never realise the vision never mind succeed in including the final 17%.

Policy Exchange also falls into the skills trap: teach the skills and surely the rest will follow. It is widely recognised today that skills only approaches have pretty much failed – which is why we still have the 17%, the long tail that grows ever longer. We have to address the issues of trust, confidence, and belief and benefit which means that skill is just one piece and it doesn’t follow that it has to come first.

Policy Exchange and Eddie Copeland are seeing people as passive participants in the digital world; consumers and employees. The trick is to see people as active participants who are taking control and realising value in a digital economy. In the digital world full time mono occupations have gone forever and we need to be agile, self reliant, just in time learners. Let us look at the means to achieve that as a headline.

If Data Is Currency Then Who Is The Bank?

In 2003 I was fortunate to partner with colleagues at Birmingham City to participate in the Digital Challenge. We made a bid to create a means of delivering public services in a personalized way to individuals through channels of choice; does that sound familiar? In 2003 there was no ubiquitous smart phone so we faced up to the challenge of creating our vision with the technology of the day. It was the journey not the outcome that mattered though at the time we were focused on winning the challenge. An important debate considered how much information we were prepared to forego in order to receive the services we wanted; we questioned how widely shared those values were and how much that value derived from the benefits we envisaged. We were ahead of our time in our thinking but the technological challenges were too great and our ability to sell the idea missed the mark.

The GigaOm podcast on Monday 22nd April on the importance of mobile to retail featured Dr Phil Hendrix and Doug Stephens. I will leave the podcast to speak (no pun intended) for itself; it’s well worth a listen but it was the quote “If data is currency then who is the bank?” that caught my attention. Our online identities reside in a number of places but will they ever be aggregated? Will one identity become more important than the others? We don’t hear as much about identity as we used to; at one time there was a lot of discussion about single, transferable identity hence we can now “log in” to different sites with our Facebook ID, or our Twitter ID or our Google ID.

But all is not well in data land because along with that shared login comes personal information and that personal information is being harvested.

I’ve read two different views of this recently: Tom Cochran writes in the All Things D blog Where he highlights the benefits in exchange for service argument. Nothing is free and if we want to enjoy personalized information, any time anywhere access to relevant information and the convenience of the cloud combined with shared access across different devices then there is a cost; that cost is the personal information that service providers harvest when we use those “free” services. Cochran’s view is that it’s worth it, he writes:

“There is a zero-sum relationship between personalization and privacy”

A case in point is put forward by Mathew Ingram who writes in GigaOm about his experience with Google Now:

“There’s no question the kind of data collection Google has to do in the background to power its Google Now service can be a little intrusive — perhaps too intrusive for some. But it also makes the results extremely useful.”

Om Malik takes up the contrary argument in his piece on the recently announced Facebook Home in which he argues that it “…destroys any notion of privacy”. In his piece “Why Facebook Home Bothers Me” Malik argues that the genie is out of the bottle and that “it’s too late to debate” but his concern is that:

“…. Facebook is going to use all this data — not to improve our lives — but to target better marketing and advertising messages at us”.

What we need is a more purposeful use of data; what Derrick Harris describes as “…a data democracy, not a data dictatorship” . This is something that I’ve argued for on a number of occasions.

When we sat and debated the use of personal data back in 2003 we did so with the mindset of a benign dictator giving to those who we deemed ready to receive; in our defense our motives were of the best kind. Ten years on we have moved on from our pioneering spirit and we have learned, just as the technology has moved on and changed in ways we couldn’t even imagine then enabling our vision. People have the right to empowerment through digital inclusion it is not the place of a minority to decide nor is it their place to take that data and use it to profit themselves without due consideration of the rights of the majority.

In “Who Owns The Future” Jarond Lanier argues that the disparity between those who harvest data and those who give it for free contributes to inequality in society. We should listen to him and when we give our data in return for a “free service” we should consider the cost.

In Praise of Questions

I would like to put in a word for people who ask questions. How often do you hear someone described as a great question provider? Are you a solutions person? Everybody loves a solution and those who provide solutions can achieve minor celebrity status.  By way of example: Ofcom’s sixth International Communications Market report declared that the UK is a nation of online shoppers with eight in ten internet users saying that they had ordered goods or services online in 2012, higher than any other European country. At worst the headline received neutral press so it must be a good thing; but as far as I can see nobody questioned why we were a nation of on line shoppers. I would suggest that it’s because the thrust of public facing digital inclusion initiatives has been based on consumption but I have no hard evidence for that though I would like to ask the question.

The need to provide solutions leads to solution led initiatives which by their very nature are generally well received. Whoever was criticized for supporting older people to get on to the Internet? What’s wrong with providing access to recycled PCs for people who are less well off?  I applaud these initiatives but I want people to ask: why are we doing this? I want people to continually ask this question because when we don’t review the rational that underpins our solution it is possible to lose sight of how we got to where we are.

Our solution led digital inclusion initiative is underpinned by one or more assumptions; take for instance the assumptions about what is digital inclusion? As far as I know digital inclusion was officially defined by UK Government in 2008 as: “The best use of digital technology, either directly or indirectly, to improve the lives and life chances of all citizens and the places in which they live”. (Communities and Local Government, 2008). Digital inclusion can be seen as desirable because if offers a range of potential benefits for the demand side user; the benefits case for the supply side user will be related but different, for instance, cost savings, efficiencies, profitability, reach and so on. At one end of the demand side benefits case Annie Dare, at the time Special Adviser to the Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox described the benefits of digital inclusion as:

“…..providing access to employability, to health, to education and information that the rest of us will take for granted”. (Race for 2012, 2010)

At the other end of the range of demand side benefits for those who are digitally included, viz making best use of digital technology, the benefits have also been described in UK Government policy as being:

“The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential” Steve Balmer, Chief Executive, Microsoft. (Department of Business Innovation and Skills, 2009) .

As a provider of solutions for digital inclusion do you see yourself in either of these descriptions? I posted a blog in September “Consumers as Producers – Digital Inclusion and the New Digital Reality” about the changes in the digital landscape that will, over the coming years, affect all of us. I’m not going to rehearse them here but I do have questions that I would like you to ask yourself:

How far are the definitions and benefits still valid in 2012 and how appropriate will they be moving forward for example on a 10 year, 15 year or 20 year plus timescale?

What are the trend related scenarios (Social and Economic) which illustrate the range of activities expected of a digital person in the next 25 years which illustrate the benefits case? Do we need to generate new scenarios which support the way in which we can enable people to realize benefit from digital inclusion?

Given a range of possible scenarios is the experience of all users a positive or a negative one. Is technology liberating and empowering achieving the benefits as perceived by Steve Balmer for all users or for some users is the technology dividend limited or is it even controlling access to the benefits defined by Annie Dare?

What are the underpinning assumptions about digital inclusion? Should we challenge these assumptions in the light of new economic and social models? Is an inclusion model based on consumption of services and consumer goods adequate or should we assume the production of services or life style organisation as foundation elements of digital inclusion?

Every now and then you come across something which crystallizes an idea for you. I stumbled upon a talk given by Jaron Lanier at PDF 2012 in which he talks about the impact of digital in a democracy.

What he has to say resonated with my thoughts about the new digital reality it can be paraphrased as “the means to be middle class in the information age is shifting” but, as Lanier puts it, without middle class clout there can be no democracy. As we celebrate our nation of consumers and focus on enabling the final 18% to access services that are digital by default should we not pause, step back and question the assumptions that underpin our solutions in a disruptive digital environment. Are we setting out to empower and to create producers of content or are we simply providing access for the consumption of goods and services? Go ON, ask yourself!

Improving the Investment Case for Digital Inclusion

Building an investment case for digital inclusion is exactly what we should be doing but it takes time. I have tried to create a summary of an approach here but it’s difficult to summarise a complex process in under 1000 words (or two sides of A4). My hope is that participants will take up the cudgel and add to it by commenting or linking their own posts with their own ideas. This is cross posted from the Social Digital Ning.

At the third Social Digital Research Symposium we heard a proposal for an investment case for the continuing promotion of digital inclusion as a social, financial and economic benefit. I blogged previously  that there might be more to it that the proposal suggested but this is something that we can and should subscribe to and support through the knowledge base that has been collected over the last ten years of academic focus on the digital agenda. As the investment case stands I believe that we can add to it and make it a stronger case. In my experience it’s rare to find a politician that “gets” digital anything though the simpler concept of “faster internet” will be something to which they can ‘sign up’ however we must also keep in mind that those same politicians also signed up to a “faster railway line” and they did that with a very dubious investment case. The High Speed Train project is currently mired in controversy because of the understandable planning concerns but also because of the way the investment case was presented.

An investment case needs a clear statement of intent: too narrow a statement and the business case will not stack up; to wide a statement and there will be too many options. Time spent on the initial statement at the beginning will make the later analysis more thorough, easier and more convincing. Just as an example what we have here is:

“To realize social, financial and economic benefit to England through accelerating the rate at which citizens participate on line.”

The key word here is “accelerate” it assumes that the current initiatives will eventually succeed in getting everybody online. Can we confidently say that this is the case or do we need to support the current initiatives and have additional, more targeted mechanisms?

The statement of intent should identify the quantity of benefit as the proposal says;  this would include Go On UK’s identification of savings, maintain the position of the UK as an e-commerce economy, increase the world ranking of the UK in the various indexes; WWWF and OECD and decrease levels of inequality, social isolation and worklessness.

Our new statement reads:

“Generate x% of savings in public services; maintain the UK’s position as an e-commerce economy and improve the countries ranking on the WWWF and OECD indices and reduce levels of inequality, social isolation and worklessness in England by x% by accelerating the rate at which citizens participate on line.”

Next the investment case should ask what are the alternative means of achieving the same  outcome? While the proposal as it stands acknowledges the base or “take no further action” case and proposes a top down marketing initiative as the preferred action as a good investment case it should consider alternative ways of spending the same amount of money. For example the investment case acknowledges the relative investment in UK Online Centres; at the very least it should consider the impact of increasing investment in current activity as an option.  England leads the world in behaviour change management; we export our expertise. Perhaps another approach would be to increase investment in that area and “Nudge” people into participating on line.

We now have a more detailed statement of intent and we have a base case, a preferred option and two alternative investment options for comparison. The investment case needs to go on to identify stakeholders; in its current form it is very weak on stakeholders and identifies only UK Online Centres, Go On UK Consortium and Digital UK. Who else is affected? What about Department of Health, Department of Work and Pensions, DeFRA, The National Housing Federation, NAVCA, The Local Government Association or NIACE? This may not be “The List” but the investment case needs stakeholders because someone has to deliver the benefits and each investment case has to be aware of the potential dis-benefits.

As an example: the benefits to the NHF of wider on line participation is an improvement in the rate of rent arrears as benefit uptake increases, employment opportunities improve and there is more efficient maintenance supply chain management as residents participate in self reporting schemes. This is a quantifiable benefit and improves the investment case. However a potential dis benefit is that as a result of the successful marketing programme Housing Associations may be ill prepared for a sudden influx in the demand for on line facilities and on line training opportunities leading to poor expectation management, loss of momentum and impact on the success of the initiative. Stakeholder engagement is a key part of risk identification and management as well as benefit delivery.

At this point our investment case has a full statement of intent with measures of performance; a range of delivery options, a stakeholder list and an analysis of benefits, dis-benefits and risks all of which are owned. We are now in a position to analyse the effectiveness and achievability of our delivery options by weighting and rating our measures of performance and our stakeholder commitment to each of the options. Taken with our benefits analysis and dis-benefit assessment we can demonstrate both the achievability and the compellingness of our preferred option against the other proposals.

Now and only now can we begin to “plug in” our costs for delivery and benefits realisation, now we can undertake our NPV calculation. Our business case is made more robust by providing the reassurance that we have covered all of the bases and no other option will deliver or exceed the level of performance of our preferred option. What if it doesn’t? I hear you ask – well, maybe we shouldn’t be doing it; a lesson that HST may have learned. But, doesn’t it take a long time? Well, yes and before anybody say it, this is probably too complex for many politicians but civil servants will approve because it is Green Book compliant and should provide most of the evidence for a funding gateway review.

Can Broadband Bertie Put Online Adoption at the Heart of Digital Britain

Thank goodness that someone with the ear of Government is finally taking the issue of digital inclusion by the scruff of the neck and giving it a good shake. “The goal of Digital Britain should be leadership in e-commerce, as well as online adoption and public services” so let’s get digital inclusion out of the minor policy league and back into the mainstream.

I do take issue on a couple of points, not least the moral case; I’m sure that some of Professor Barwise’s colleagues in the Philosophy School would do so as well. While it would be difficult to argue that there was not an absolute case for reducing inequality; not least, assuming that participation in a vibrant economy is a desirable moral outcome, because an economy based on inequality is an inefficient economy, we should not ignore the fact that there may be no relative moral case. In short, people who are digitally and socially excluded may not wish to share our view of a digitally included society as a moral good.

I have neither the skill nor the knowledge to argue the philosophical merits of the moral case but I would say that we (the digeratti?) would do well to keep on asking the question of ourselves and what we do in promoting digital inclusion. It is quite right to promote the work done by Race Online and the UK Online Centres but the question still has to be asked why we still have 18% of the population off line after nearly eight years of government sponsored activity. The Digital Challenge started in 2004, the first national Digital Inclusion conference was in 2008. The Labour Government had a well thought out, cross departmental policy initiative on digital inclusion to run alongside the D Gov and the E Gov initiatives and yet, 8 years on, here we are with the long tail of 18%.

The other issue is that I don’t believe that it’s simply a matter of resourcing; while the amount for the activities of UK Online Centres may well be inadequate the Research Councils UK have already committed £58m in the period 2008 – 2011 and between 2011 and 2014/15 have a projected spend of £129m on the digital economy alone.

We are undertaking these activities in a changing context; I don’t know if Einstein really did say that insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, whoever said it had a point. We need to keep asking ourselves questions about what we do both to understand why we do it in the current context and to consider doing things differently, to take account of new contexts,  in order to obtain different results. In her 2011 Media Policy Brief “The Emergence of a Digital Underclass” Ellen Helsper argued that: “To achieve a digitally equal Britain as well as a digital Britain ….. policies need to address the whole spectrum of digital inclusion: qualtity of access, skills, motivation and effective, sustainable use.” I agree and would argue that simply increasing resources to do again what we have done for the past 8 years will not necessarily give us a different result but in order to understand that we have to repeatedly question what we are doing and why.

Work by Anthony Townsend and Rachel Maguire for Institute for the Future raised the prospect of empowering the poor through ICTs following work undertaken in the poorest areas of Brazil “A Planet of Civic Laboratories”, Rockerfeller Foundation 2010. Rangaswamy and Cutrell provided an interesting insight into self organizing networks around mobile technology amongst young males in the slums of urban India: “Slums, Youth and the Mobile Internet in Urban India” Microsoft Research India 2012. Perhaps these examples of the use of ICTs in the extreme end of social exclusion can offer us insights into the way forward. At the very least, let us ask the question.

Consumers as Producers – Digital Inclusion and the New Digital Reality.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
The Walrus and the Carpenter

With due respect to William Gibson it’s the uneven distribution of the future that has run as a theme through my blog posts since I started them in 2008. Whatever reservations I may express about our attempts to create a pervasive superfast infrastructure I can’t ignore the impact of the Digital Champion programme and the work of the many volunteers in addressing digital exclusion in England: but we still have the long tail; we still have the 20% or so who remain digitally and, very often, socially excluded in 21st century England and it is my contention that no amount of Going On is going to change that. The impact of that exclusion is being highlighted this week by the introduction of digital by default in 2013.  We should refocus our efforts to support the long tail and not just at point of service delivery but unless there is a shift in the inherent values which underpin the current approaches I suspect that the long tail is going to remain stubbornly there for a long time yet.

As the Walrus said to the carpenter “The time has come, to talk of many things”: I believe it’s time for the digital inclusion agenda to move on. I don’t mean to ignore the long tail but to recognise that to be digitally included is going to mean something very different. When we talk about inclusion today we mean the internet; when we talk about superfast broadband we mean faster internet and when we talk about the internet we mean the World Wide Web. This is not just semantics because our understanding is what underpins a traditional model of society and the economy overlaid by channels of consumption. There are vested interests in keeping the world that way; the old adage that Google knows what you want, Facebook knows what you like and Amazon knows what everybody like you also bought is as true today as ever it was and that knowledge underpins the position of those organisations as Internet power houses. Last week I watched the hour long launch of the Kindle Fire  here was an object of desire built entirely around our relationship with an on line retailer.

When the current economic crisis ends, and I have to believe that it will end whenever that may be, the factory gates will not swing open and we will not all march back into work to the sound of “Sing as we go” there are fundamental changes in play which will lead to tensions between the need of current state to sustain consumption and changes in the nature of mass employment which seeks to create efficiencies in the world of supply. A connected world brings opportunities for coordinating activity on a massive scale, powered by big data and facilitated by cloud technology: production moves to the edge, supply lines become supply points, goods and services become personalized. The new digital inclusion takes the accepted ideas of skills and literacy and the necessity of online privacy and safety and adds to it the capacity for agility and expectation of a portfolio lifestyle, collaborative ability and a committed social role. These capacities will become essential parts of a digital person, without them people will re-enter the realm of digital and social exclusion.

What will the world look like post 2020 are those are clouds on the horizon?

We will finally divorce infrastructure from the internet.  See written evidence presented by Dr Catherine Middleton to the House of Lords Select Committee on Superfast Broadband (page 245). Infrastructure will underpin intelligent homes, transport, energy, water and food supply; what IFTF calls sharable cities; what I call sharable communities.

The world will be personalized: Social care and health care will take account of personal wealth and be co-produced through a raft of agencies and local providers; they will no longer be chosen from a basket of pre-prepared offers. Medication will be personalized. Learning will be personalized, lifelong and continuous to support our adaptability and agility. Political engagement will be both personal and social; political parties will be collaborative and transitory the power will lie with the floating voter. What IFTF describes as the shift from “individually responsible intelligent organisms to complex ecosystems of biologically distributed intelligence”.

The economy will be truly digital, not a digital layer over a 19th century industrialized society but truly digital. Sheer economic pressure will force production to the edge removing costs from distribution logistics, inventory storage and over production. The rise of the Internet of Things will build intelligence into everyday objects, appliances and food and the aggregated data will fine tune supply. Big data will have value in a wider sphere than just social and market trends as providers realize that they have an interest in when and how we consume their products and services. Additive manufacturing will become the norm for the majority of consumer products and it will take place as close to the point of distribution as possible. Everything will exist in software until it is required and software will exist in the cloud; deindustrialization will be the norm.

We will experience massive disruption of traditional media; the Netflix effect will spread so that we will capture increasing value from SMART TV’s. The business model of telcos and cable companies will adapt or die: we will see the same patterns of protectionism and aggressive lobbying as we have with print media and music distribution industries but the outcome will be the same. The decline of traditional news and content providers will be matched by the rise and rise of respected curators of content as we seek trusted sources. Hyperlocal will play an increasingly important role in the information needs of communities; social media will be the second point of call for information signposting. Mobile will be pervasive and the accepted norm.

There will be little demand for mass employment and so we must prepare to have different expectations of our lifestyles. As institutional wage labour declines micro contributions increase, production becomes social. Beyond 2020 we are faced with a stark choice: Do we operate a false, inefficient economy in which we make goods in factories and consume over the internet to meet a demand stimulated by the marketing forces of the big providers as we do now? Do we operate in a way which makes us social care workers one day, manufacturers the next, educators one morning, learners one afternoon? Do we embrace a rise in the value of artisan goods and develop new skills to offer personalized services? Do we become content creators and skilled curators both to generate income and to enrich the lives of our communities?

Will all of this happen tomorrow? No of course not, this is a process of change but we must prepare for that change lest the long tail suddenly shortens and wide exclusion becomes the norm again. Consider the digital skills and attitudes that we need to develop to enable participation in the brave new world; consider yet the implications for staying as we are and not preparing for the impact of change? Do we pick up our tablet, log on to the store and order a video to watch on our SMART TV and call ourselves digitally included? Think about it.