Date Archives March 2012

The Next Big Thing: Annals of Invention

Some of the coolest, pithy, witty and sarcasm-laden 140-character thoughts I’ve ever had never made it to my timeline. Such thoughts usually come amid conversations with people or in the middle of a task I cannot walk away from. So what happens is that I keep making mental notes along the way, telling my mind i’d tweet that 140 characters of comic wisdom as soon as I get on the web. They almost never make it that far because when i do get on the web, either the point of the thought/tweet would have been lost on me because of the time elapsed or I forget altogether due to other 140-character thoughts working their way from my mind to my fingers and onto the web in real time. They were obviously too cool for Facebook, anyway.

As pervasive and ubiquitous as social media has proven to be, there’s still a time lag between real time events and the when they get on the web. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not oblivious of how quick news gets on the web in our day and how live events can be followed on the web as they happen. But lets say a reporter was covering a war troubled region and he/she sees or uncovers vital info as they unfold and, God forbid, got killed before they could log it in or tweet it. Or if a guy like Einstein or some other brainiac icon on his deathbed, without the ability to write, happens upon a profound theory in their mind, still, what are the implications of us not knowing those thoughts? I could whip up other scenarios where it’d be critical to have a seamless transition between when our thoughts are hatched and when they get published, but i’d let you think some up yourselves.

I know what some of you’re thinking: ‘there’s a reason we have diaries for documentation.’ Documentation on a private pad for later reference of a time critical info that needs to get out there immediately defeats the purpose already. For this kind of data, diaries, recorders and the likes would prove futile. Only a Thought Transmitter(sic) would suffice. No, i’m not talking about mind reading, where the subject is largely oblivious of the act due to hypnosis. In thought transmission, the subject is aware and in full control of the process. Enter the realm spooky science where a person could will their thoughts or any mental data onto an external device probably far away from proximity instantaneously. A new superstar innovation is begging to be launched. By the time our kids are college freshmen, or their kids are in Juniour High, this would probably have been taken care of(wait, you don’t think they’d still be buzzing on about BBM, Facebook and Twitter and Life on Mars then, do you? That’d be sad).
Crazy, unrealistic idea? Touché.

After Faraday discovered electricity, it took a stiff competition between Thomas Edison and Nikolai Tesla to take the remarkable experimental discovery from the confines of the laboratory to the streets of America in the early 1900s. They marketed and made it real, tangible and useful to the non-nerdy folks of earthville. And the world was never the same again since. Electricity is by far the single most important discovery ever hatched by a human mind. It’s the bedrock on which many other outstanding innovations stand. Airplanes, industrial machines and home appliances, computers and the big one of our generation: the internet, are all standing on that single invention. And each of these other innovations were the ‘Big thing’ of their era and their founders were immortalized.

The web/social media is the big thing of our day. It’s a profound scientific innovation which aids communication across multiple layers at an alarming speed across the globe. It’s as much about speed of access as it is about ease of access. As the comm devices we build get faster and faster, yet with each upgrade(see Moore’s Law), the only limitation we’ll encounter, with time, is the pace at which we load these devices with info. Our minds aren’t getting an upgrade, and that’ll ensure the time lag between generating a time-critical thought/info and when it gets published/sent to an appropriate location via social media is sustained.

If the earth remains for much longer (and we have people crazy-smart enough as Stephen Hawking, who, sadly, won’t be around for much longer), this ability to transmit thoughts in real time could become a reality. Of course, like all inventions, it’s downside would probably outweigh the upside. People could then transmit any thought ranging from the genuine and useful to the dumb, irritating and useless. It’s only reasonable that people’d be able to subscribe to and block channels at will.

I keep hoping this happens in my lifetime, though. It’ll sure cure my fingers’ insubordination as they, having a mind of their own, keep typing what they will with partial disregard for some of the thoughts streaming from my mind in real time. That’s why this post is how it is. Blame it on the hands.