August 17, 2006
I'm fascinated by the intersection of the web and real life. Back during the dot com days we used to talk about the pervasive internet - this time of ultimate convergence when everything would be IP enabled and linked to the intermenet. At the time we used to joke privately about your new IP enabled fridge, that famously would be ordering your milk when you ran out, crashing like all Windows machines and ruining your frozen pizzas.
Then mobile phones promised us the internet in the palm of our hand. They have yet to truly deliver on that promise - although the Opera phone browsers with small screen rendering a great leap forward away from the horror that is WAP.
Two annoucements in the last week have pushed us further into the converged on/off line world: Google have given their home city free WiFi access everywhere. Free internet. Anywhere. One giant hotspot. And, sure, no doubt they will eventually monetise this, as they do all their ventures, by selling advertising - in this case geotargeted advertising. But the pervasive net is coming.
Second, Sony announced the launch of the Mylo, shown above. Short for My Life Online it's a first of a kind WiFi only device designed for the instant messenger generation. No phone bills, and, in MountView at least, it would work anywhere for IM or Skype or web browsing.
Imagine when WiFi is everywhere: with a decent WiFi handset and Skype you could put the networks out of business.
All of which is very exciting because it hints at the kind of ideas that will flourish in this integrated world: integrated ideas! Ideas that blend online with the world; integration an order of difference beyond the cuffs and collars model of making a banner look like a press ad, or streaming a TV ad via an MPU.
Things like Blast Theory's interactive art game Uncle Roy All Around You, where contestants on the street are guided by online players.
Like the Cannes winning Monopoly idea, played out with GPS enabled taxis as the playing pieces.
Like the Japanese Geovector technology that lets you Click on the Real World - point and click search things in real life.
Like the Yellow Arrow project, where stickers in the real world lead to content you can access online or via SMS.
Like AOL's interactive reality game Gold Rush, an on and offline treasure hunt they are describing as "the first truly cross-platform media event designed specifically for the Internet but in cooperation with network television, print publications and radio."
Jay Chiat once said:
Creative is not a department.
So I put the call out, stealing his:
Digital is not a department!