Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Click to prosper

kw: book reviews, nonfiction, sociology, trends, technology

The title of this post may better fit an earlier book by this author, but I haven't read that one yet.

When you hear "Word of mouth," what do you think of? Is it Advertising? If so, that's the association Marc Ostrofksy wants for his book titled Word of Mouse: 101+ Trends in How We Buy, Sell, Live, Learn, Work, and Play. The title is a near-table of contents. Just add two items: Communicate and Safeguard., though the last chapter is really subtitled "Cyber Crime".

The earlier book is Get Rick Click!, and this one follows the theme, being mostly business oriented. I wonder how quickly both titles will become obsolete, as we move from 30 years of mousing to using touch, gestures, voice and, perhaps quite soon, thought patterns, to direct our devices. Who'd like to set up a pool on the first day someone's grandkid asks, "What were mouses like?", not referring to tiny mammals.

The author is relentlessly cheerful, almost frisky. Sometimes I felt the book had been written by a juvenile Labrador Retriever. But there is no mistaking his message. It may be obvious to some, but not to all: we are on the verge of cyborgification. The smart cell phone is close to the logical conclusion to which computer technology has been leading for nearly 70 years.

I remember the first time I saw children using cell phones. My wife and I were taking a walk, and saw a woman following two young girls, no older than 6, who were dashing and skipping along while each chatted with a friend on a flip phone held to her ear. I said to my wife, "In a couple decades, puberty will be marked with the installation of a device the size of a pea in the bone behind the ear. There'll be a mic in your jawbone. You'll just say, 'Hey, phone, call Allison.'" A couple decades have passed, and we're not there yet, but I've recently read a couple news articles in which "installable phones" were mentioned.

I figure the built-in phone will be necessary because anything you carry can be stolen, but an installation will not be. I haven't heard of anyone stealing the pacemaker out of someone's body, even though they cost as much as a small auto. I hold out little hope for "kill switch" technology. The only drawback to an installed phone: It'll be harder to turn all the way off. Maybe you can just cover the area where its antenna lies with foil…

I do hold out a lot of hope for increasingly clever devices to help us do pretty much anything short of stirring the soup pot or flipping an omelet (though they can show you an instructional video on it), or pluck my guitar for me, but then what's the use of muscle memory? Hmmm, now if they find a way to instantly attain muscle memory, they might have something!

Well, I'll leave it to interested readers to peruse the book. I didn't find anything like "101+ trends" listed out. Each chapter peppers you with ideas, some being trends and others being less well defined. I did happen to pause to think when he was discussing personal branding. Since retirement I've toyed with the idea of getting some really creative cards made. I'm not limited to company format any more. But a Polymath has a lot of irons in the fire, and there is too much to fit on one card. It is like the time I entered college. Though I picked a major, I really wanted to major in all the sciences. I eventually majored in four, then synergized all of them into a career writing software. This'll take further thought. I need a holographic card, that can project about a wall size display! Or—the simpler solution—several cards.

The book was plenty of fun to read, so a drawback or two I've mentioned above shouldn't deter anyone from reading it. Particular if you're looking for ideas to better use the Gigahertz processors at your fingertips, you'll likely find plenty in its pages.

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