The Day the Wall Talked Back

Welcome back. You belong here.

Dean and I were working at his dining room table last week in between spurts of conversation about the future. Erica walks in, listens for a sec and then contributes a thought that went something like this: In the past computers were large and the goal was to make them smaller. In the future the computer will be large again. The difference is that this time we’ll be living in the computer.

She happily walks away and I sat there delighted by the imagination. Erica does this to me all too regularly. That’s right, I thought. In the future our entire human environment will be interactive.

In an article based on the book, Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing, Adam Greenfield writes:

“Everyware” is an attempt to describe the form computing will take in the next few years. Specifically, it’s about a vision of processing power so distributed throughout the environment that computers per se effectively disappear. (A List Apart: Articles: Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing)

Robert Schank, a leading researcher in artificial intelligence and professor in the school of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, writes:

Fifty years from now, knowledge will be so easy to acquire that one will be able simply to say aloud whatever one wants to know and hear an instantaneous response from the walls –enhanced by a great deal of technology inside those walls, of course. [The Next Fifty Years, 2002]

In the future, our environment will be alive. All of our appliances, the walls of our houses, the cars we drive, will be portals to humankinds’ knowledge base easily accessible by voice commands.

Imagine yourself toasting bread in the kitchen as you mull over how to proceed with your new church plant. You turn to the toaster, What do you think?
“About what?” The toaster says.
“How long should I work with my core team before we go public?”
“Well, do you want them light or dark?” The toaster asks.

OK, that was tongue-in-cheek, but a few decades from now, the first time a wall talks back to you, remember this post. There is an old saying, the walls have ears. I think that in the future, not only will the walls be listening, they’ll be speaking too.

What do you think?

see you in the mystic…


Upcoming events you don’t want to miss:

Join ERWIN and ALEX MCMANUS in Orlando, Florida on February 7-8 for a new National Conference called HUMANA 2.0. Readers of “Into the Mystic” are the first to know about the “Petaflop” discount for this national convergence scheduled for February 7-8 in Orlando, Fla. Register before September 15 and you’ll save well over $100.00 per registrant. Speakers: Erwin McManus, Lead Pastor of Mosaic, Gerardo Marti, author of A Mosaic of Believers, Moi, and others.

The Summer discounts for the Makers of Fire tour expire in a few days. Register before 31 August and save $30.00 on these regional events. Join the IMN team in Chattanooga, Detroit (area), Montreal, Kansas City (area), or Providence.

Needed: Heroes for a quest to save the universe one planet at a time. Safe return doubtful. Apply now for the second flight of the 2007 7-Day Mentoring Immersion in Orlando or Los Angeles. Seating is limited. The deadline is September 15.

Meet your favorite bloggers –or as we like to call them, voxers –and listen to good music. Hang out with us in Orlando on the weekend of February 9-11, 2007 for the first ever VWMJ (VOXTROPOLIS WORLD MUSIC JAM)–a music jam for independant artists and a connection point for the cyber city.


8 responses to “The Day the Wall Talked Back”

  1. With great opportunity comes great responsibility… Do you think this kind of technology will widen the divide between the haves and the have nots?

  2. It certainly will. And imagine the contrast between dumb walls that unconsciously “do their job” as barriers, and smart walls which actively aid those they shelter… songs will be sung about being trapped behind the former via the power of the latter.

    Another thing: for those who live in the electro-alive world, the key to influence and advancement (perhaps the key to merely keeping your job!) will not be the amassing of knowledge that others lack: we will swim thru info, facts and data like fish through water currents. Asking the right questions will be more important than “knowing the answers”; what we do with knowledge will eclipse the knowing of it.

  3. Interesting comment about this ‘electro-alive world’. The key might in fact be where does all the energy to drive this technology come from?

    Some research has been done in the UK into global warming which suggests that cities will be the hottest places because of their density and building materials. It suggests that we will need to use different materials, thicker walls and ceilings, to create cooler spaces. Does that mean that they will be able to hold more information or will they just be ‘thick’?

    Man to the kettle, “What are you getting so steamed up about?”

  4. alex

    peace! hope all is well.

    i dont have your phone number but need to talk to you [this morning?]

    i am in chattanooga. number at my hotel is 423 266 4121. ext. 809

  5. Alex,

    Good one, but this is no BIG deal is it really? I mean God was speaking through walls in the time of King Neb – no? 🙂

    Honestly, the only thing that scares me about this kind of thing is implants (microchips), etc.. Additionally, the idea that this data will be controlled by someone and something could very much skew the ideas and thoughts of future generations through data censorship, etc..

    I love the idea. Could you imagine doing a sermon and bring up the idea of the Sermon on the Mount and all of a sudden the wall is speaking the Sermon to the congregation as some corresponding video is showing? mmmmm…, the possibilities are endless… – no?

    In His Love,

    Richie Merritt

  6. I’ve been thinking about the A List Apart article you quote for a few months now ,and personally, this idea of everyware terrifies me. All I can think of is 1984.. and every other dystopian novel/movie I’ve heard of. Thought Police. Loss of privacy. Censorship. Anything bad is possible with this kind of technology, I can’t help but think it outweighs anything good that could come out of it. Sorry for being the conspiracy theorist :).

    Anyway, on a different note. I’ve just found this blog in recent days.. loving it so far.

  7. Jon,

    Welcome to the mystic. I totally hear you. One can almost imagine a society like the one in the movie, “Minority Report”.

  8. Alex,

    Great stuff, as usual! I thought I would drop you a line to let you know that I’ll be at the Makers of Fire in DTW on Sept. 15. Any suggested prep before the conference? Books, blogs, etc?

    Looking forward to it,


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