WebVisions 2007: Sensory Transformation

by Luke Wroblewski May 3, 2007

David Pescovitz’s Sensory Transformation: How to Sip from the Information Firehose keynote at WebVisions 2007 outlined how we can the process of looking at existing weak signals can point toward future trends. In particular, what happens when computing, communicating, and sensing applications become more ubiquitous.

  • VUCA world: volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous.
  • To forecast the future, we need to narrow the cone of uncertainty. Start from hear & now and move toward possibilities.
  • Foresights (sensing) to Insights (making sense) to Action (what to do). In the coming decade we will all become sense-makers.
  • Weak signals: blog posts, patent filings, etc. If we look at weak signals as patterns, we can begin to make sense of larger trends.
  • Sensory transformation: what happens when there is too much information for any one person to deal with. We have only have one set of ears & eyes to deal with all this.
  • The majority of the tools we create today are for data acquisition or information dissemination. We need tools to deal with cognitive overload.
  • Three waves of technology: computing (increase productivity, process data), communicating (email, IM, etc.), sensing (sensors embedded across world).
  • In the next decade these three curves will come together. Most objects will have communication, computing, and sensing capabilities.
  • Sensor networks will serve as the eyes and ears of the geo-world and provide information relevant to wherever you are. This means the end of cyberspace as a place you go. Instead it is a seamless overlay of the world.
  • Zillionics: zillions of unrelenting rivers of sensory data coming at you day and night.
  • The fourth wave (after computing, communications, and sensing) is sense-making: helping us to deal with an overload of info.
  • Visualizations: data representations are on the rise.
  • Ambient displays: low fidelity information displays.
  • Sensory enhancing systems: how interfaces mediate sensory experiences.
  • Is multitasking is an evolutionary step to dealing with cognitive overload?
  • Students are applying mind hacking to gain competitive edge in academic settings. Drugs being used for productivity to focus attention not for recreational use. Provigil: 90% of prescriptions are for off label use. Keeps you awake without amphetamine side effects.
  • Mind enhancement drugs and procedures may allow you to manage sensory overload.
  • Upgrade your brain to keep up with sensory integration.