Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy
by Robert Scoble (Author) , Shel Israel (Author)
Content is King, Commerce is Queen; Context is GOD is what the authors seem to indicate in this interesting read.
A background on context
I live in Bangalore currently. Whenever I visit Chennai my typical pattern is as follows
Have breakfast at my Aunt’s place, have lunch at my friends’ place and have dinner at my cousin’s place. At each of these places, my favorite dishes are ready before the time I enter their place and utmost care is taken to ensure that my voracious appetite is taken care to the brim. Over the days and years they have understood my consumption pattern and ensure that the one thing that matters to me the most is taken care.
At office parties where I get invited, which seems to be fewer as I get older, the background whisper is “If this bugger is coming, have the damned curd rice as part of the menu”
Recently I visited my cousin l and sister-in-law in the US and I could see the same enthusiasm to serve my interests. I have not been in regular touch with them owing to the usual excuses that I can command at will, but ‘out of sight’ did not translate to ‘out of mind’. They were bang on in serving my interests.
In all the above cases, it is not that my consumption pattern and preferences has been understood by everyone who took the pain to serve me, but the knowledge got transferred to them in some way and also someone took the pain to get that knowledge
I am sure you would have had similar experiences. It is not only with relations or friends or not necessarily with appetite, you would have had this kind of personalized contextual experience but possibly in all spheres of life. You would have experienced this with your hair stylist, your doctor, your next door kirana store, your panwala and many other places.
In all these experiences, I have experienced that AHA or WOW moments that has brought me a smile and I am sure it would have happened to you as well in various context.
Simply put, Age of Context is about machines creating these AHA or WOW moments and much more than that.
In others words, Age of context is about how the five forces of mobile, social media, data, sensors and location are going to affect your online experiences.
Next time I am sent on a sponsored trip to Las Vegas, I would possibly get an alert from Google on, “Go, get your curd rice from…!”
Will it? Well. The jury is out. Do share your thoughts. What follows is an extract of the interesting viewpoints that the authors elucidate and the next section is a verbatim of what the author’s state.
The Five Forces
Mobile is the convergent force that ties together the other four forces. The numbers of mobile phones have overtaken the number of people on the planet and according to Gartner 45 billion apps were downloaded by end of 2012 and that numbers are increasing. That amounts to more than six apps for every man, woman and child on earth. Your device will be the key to all the power of internet. It is where the super storm of context thunders into your life.
Today 1.5 billion people are on social media. A billion tweets were posted every 48 to 72 hours. No successful modern business deploys a go-forward strategy that does not include social media.  When organizations use social media wisely, companies and customer come closer together. Employees and users often collaborate on making products and services better
Big Data is the new buzz word and everywhere you see the 3V’s (Volume , Variety and Velocity) being talked about. In the first data of a baby’s life today, the world creates 70 times the data contained in the entire library of Congress (“The Human face of Big Data” . But Big data is not really about Big Data. It is about those cute little insights that appeal to us. The hugeness can intimidate but the little pieces can make us smarter and enable us to keep up with and make sense of, an accelerating world
Today, smartphones contain an average of seven sensors. A rapidly growing number of mobile apps use them to know where you are and what you are doing. Sensors know when you are heading or leaving home and can adjust your contextual thermostat accordingly.
Without Location there is no context and without context there is no Leadership is what Caterina Fake, CEO and founder of Findery ( has to say.
What is in store with the five forces?
 I think the book offers very interesting possibilities, applications and I would recommend you to get hold of the book so that you can appreciate how the five forces can impact you. I have just listed a few of them to kindle your curiosity.
The ones you possibly are already familiar with
·         Fitbit (
·         Google Glass (
The ones you possibly are not familiar with
·         Proteus Digital Health (
·         Driptech (
·         Atooma (
·         Highlight (
·         Smart Textiles (
And many more!!
The risks
If you have seen the wonderful ted talk titled Filter Bubble ( by Eli Pariser, you would have realized that your privacy has been up for grabs sometime now. The authors do attempt to bring in a sense of balance to the risks that the five forces can bring in and are optimistic about the overall values that the five forces shall realize eventually.
What do I think? (Not that it matters to anyoneJ)
I have believed in the experience economy ( and I believe the Age of Context sets up the case and platform for Staging Highly personalized and contextual experience for every consumer of the enterprise. May be Google shall send the “Curd Rice” alert next time when I land in LA.
However I also relate any technology advances or discussions that I come across to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs ( and, I would have to say, though the Age of Context is applicable to all rungs in that ladder, it is currently applicable for people who have crossed rung two or more!
Age of Context talks about “Connected Human” but as states only 1 out of 3 people can go online and that in my view is where a sense of urgency needs to be exhibited.
Tail piece
I rewind in time over fourteen years and think about WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) which possibly started this revolution of mobile connecting to internet and one of my long time mentor and friend used to say “The day is not far off. When you cross the plaza theatre in MG Road Bangalore, if your favorite movie is playing, you will get a WAP Push notification to buy the ticket. The system shall understand everything about your pattern and that system is called Personality Server.”
I ask him now. “Boss – Plaza theatre has been converted into a mall. When is my WAP Push Coming”?
I am waiting. I am an eternal optimist.
Stay Tuned
Have Fun