Mesh: an interwoven or intertwined structure; network (Dictionary.com). If you think we were in a mesh before, just wait to see what develops in the months and years ahead.
According to technology experts, the meshing of devices, apps and perhaps other technologies will a) simplify the movement of information across previously isolated networks, systems and devices and b) make it easier for companies to trace our daily behavior patterns across multiple platforms by increasing the use of sensors that gather, chart and combine information on our activities.
Getting to Know You
Certainly ‘a’ sounds like a wonderful convenience that can help streamline the general access and flow of information.
For example, Wired, a well-regarded source that aspires to make sense of a world in constant transformation, recently reported on the growth of FireChat and Serval Project that build mesh networks by connecting smartphones via the devices’ Bluetooth or peer-to-peer Wi-Fi, effectively turning every smartphone into a node that can carry and deliver text messages without relying on a centralized ISP or telecom service. By doing so, “people are able to build their own decentralized network that can grow as large as there are people who have the app downloaded.”
Getting to Know All About You
So, too, is ‘b’ a remarkable technology aimed at behavior analytics, but it does raise some red flags regarding where it could ultimately take us—at least from the perspective of an outsider looking into such rapid technological advancement.
The device mesh is “an expanding set of endpoints people use to access applications and information or interact with people, social communities, governments and businesses, according to Gartner, Inc., a leading international information technology research and advisory company. “The device mesh includes mobile devices, wearable, consumer and home electronic devices, automotive devices and environmental devices — such as sensors in the Internet of Things (IoT) ... The experience seamlessly flows across a shifting set of devices and interaction channels blending physical, virtual and electronic environment as the user moves from one place to another.”
Peter High, a technology contributor at Forbes put it this way: “Gartner posits that the devices and sensors will become so smart that they will be able to organize our lives without our even noticing that they are doing so.”
Chipping Away at Privacy
It’s bad enough that one can search the Internet for a car-door replacement handle and then receive pitches for all sorts of car-door handles, but now even the use of a loyalty discount card at the local supermarket will evoke a series of targeted product pitches based on today’s potato chip purchase.
Then, of course, settle in for an on-demand slapstick comedy program this evening and start receiving endless ‘recommendations’ via email along with a reordering of offered selections to place all Three Stooges and Laurel & Hardy episodes ahead of everything else available.
Yes, there often are ways to turn off tracking and protect privacy, but those options are not always easy to find and it’s a safe bet most people give the tracking as much thought as they do the notices on websites and software that require checking the ‘I Agree’ button when clicking on ‘Terms and Conditions.’
In other words, users rarely stop to consider where all that information is being compiled and how it possibly might be used down the road.
Besides, one would like to think that most humans are more than one-dimensional characters who live every day in some sort of vertical playground, with only the narrowest of interests and without ever looking to find whatever else might exist across the horizontal mind field.
Meshing of information and data is a wonderful convenience and has great potential to take us beyond reliance on a series of isolated devices and apps, bridging the information compatibility gap.
It would just feel a whole lot more palatable if we all read the fine print so we at least understand the potential downsides before we’re branded as ‘stooges’ and boxed into a world of endless car-door handles and potato chips—although, the latter sounds at least somewhat okay.
If such longer-range cautions are unfounded, that will be great.
If not, with apologies to the late, great Oliver Hardy: Well, here's another nice mesh you've gotten us into!