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Thursday, December 23, 2010

When everything is connected: Mobile communication and the Internet

The Internet has created in only one decade a global information network that has become the platform for communication and delivering information, digital content and knowledge, enabling commercial transactions and advertising, creating virtual communities for cocreating and sharing their content, and for building various value adding digital services for consumers and businesses. The Internet phenomenon has been a complex development that has been influenced by several factors – an emerging culture that shares values that are brilliantly summarized by Manuel Castells:

The culture of the Internet is a culture made up of a technocratic belief in the progress of humans through technology, enacted by communities of hackers thriving on free and open technological creativity, embedded in virtual networks aimed at reinventing society, and materialized by money driven entrepreneurs into the workings of the new economy.

The Internet can be characterized by four key elements: Internet technology and its standardization, open innovation based on various open source development tools and software, content and technology creation in various virtual communities around the Internet, and finally on business opportunities created by the Internet connectivity and access to the global information. The history and the origin of mobile communication are different and have been driven by the telecommunication operators and manufacturers. Digital mobile communication has focused on providing secure connectivity and guaranteed quality of voice and messaging services. The key driver has been connection, i.e., establishing a link between two persons. The global expansion of digital mobile phones and mobile network services has occurred in a short period of time, more or less in parallel with the Internet.

Mobile communication networks have also evolved from the original voice and text messaging services to complex data communication networks. The mobile phone has become a pocket-size mobile multimedia computer with various applications and capabilities to access networked services. The convergence of mobile communication and the Internet is one of the most significant technology trends of our time with significant social and economic impact. The mobile devices and networks are able to extend access to the Internet from homes and offices to every pocket and every situation in everyday life. Mobile phones outnumber personal computers by a factor of 5–10. In developing countries in particular, mobile phones are immensely important for accessing the Internet and its services as many people make their first connection to the Internet via a mobile phone

It is very clear that the evolution of human society will be shaped by the global communication and information sharing networks. In this book we will discuss another important dimension that will bring the Internet and mobile communication even closer to human everyday life.

With the deployment of wireless sensor networks new capabilities to master our interface to the physical world will emerge. Coupled with the use of nanotechnology, the ability of human technologies to image, measure, and manipulate matter down to the molecular scale and to master the self-organizing structures of nature will extend our ability to invent new materials and manufacturing solutions, new energy, sensing, computing and communication technologies, and a deeper means to interact with living systems: our environment and our bodies. Integrating the capabilities provided through nanotechnology and wireless sensor networks will offer a transformation of human society towards the new concept of seamless local and global interaction, as illustrated below;

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