Beginning of New Bond

Google Home

I was quite excited to try out Google Home, although none of my light switches at home is smart enough to pair up with it.

The commands I have used most are:

Weather today/tomorrow/next week
News
Play a podcast (only autoplays the latest episode)
Play XX radio station
Play a XX song by XX artist

Phrasing the commands simple and straightforward is the rule, otherwise what awaits me is just “Sorry I can’t help.” or “Sorry I don’t understand”.

It certainly has created a new vibe at home, but I also sometimes wonder whether it is actually necessary to have such a not-so-smart “home assistant” to be around.

Google, not surprisingly, is pretty proud of its product:

What we found is that people are not only learning how to use the devices, they’re weaving them into their lives and daily routines. And in some instances, they’re forging a new kind of bond with technology, one that’s often much more personal than in the past.

I was expecting the bond to be formed a bit more smoothly than what I’m experiencing. The media had given a lot of credibility to the AI technology and what it can bring to the future, despite its obvious current limitations. It feels that AI has slowly taken its shape in certain fields through audio and visual stimulation, or maybe a combination of both. However, since long ago, the discussions of AI tend to focus on how AI can saturate ordinary people’s life both physically and mentally  — ie: occupations to be replaced by AI roborts by 20XX years; AI computer beats chess master; people become too obsessed with AI and get confused with boundaries between AI and reality (as seen in the movie Her, and Black Mirror S3E1).

The “new bond” pushed by Google signifies that they have kickstarted the process to transit a machine from one that talks, responds, and actions, to one that understands, interacts, and generates more intimate user experience.

Recently Facebook has decided to shift its Newsfeed algorithm from focusing on relevant content to enabling more “meaningful social interactions.”Another example that big companies are heavily investing in new ways of getting people to “bond” with technology, on a level that facilitates the day-to-day social interactions between people in an online environment.

As AI becoming part of the modern living, it will certainly introduce new user habits, access points, behaviours, which then lead to more diverse ways to perceive ourselves and others. However it’d be interesting to see if the “new bond” led by AI will live up to the high expectation, both in terms of its speed of development and the quality of the connection that’s being generated.

Web 3.0 Asia?

I have mentioned the decreasing popularity of the term “Web 2.0”, this brief speech by google CEO Eric Schmidt in Seoul Digital Forum might provide us with a more concrete evidence.

 According to him, Web 3.0 is “applications that are pieced together. They are relatively small…very fast and customizable, and distributed virally…” I looked up for some other definitions about Web 3.0, it has been frequently referred as a form of “semantic web”, with applications that tailored to the specific individual’s needs. It is not necessarily restricted to specific web sites or services, but is more invisible and embedded in our everyday life.

 

What I’m concerned about is how such new form of web construction might influence the Asian web system, as it is based on highly customizable feature and rapid communication, would it make people more connected to each other, or further separate them as distinctive individuals? With its penetration into everyday life, would it bring about more freely expressed content, or actually be applied as a new system of censorship? And as for its feature of viral distribution, would it become a network that is truly global or actually generates networks that are more locally focused? Anyway, looking forward to the spread of this new wave of technical revolution.

 

The death of “Web 2.0” and Why Asia

The impact of term Web 2.0 is shrinking? According to this article, the author drew this conclusion based on the Google trend analysis retrieved early this year, which shows a significant decrease in the search for term Web 2.0 since 2007.

In my mind, Web 2.0 equals interactive web media based on user-generated content. However, with the stabilization and maturation of the technology related to Web 2.0, various forms of Web 2.0 services tend to generate very distinct user experiences and it seems that people don’t normally treat them as the same things. For instance, Google’s search engine and people’s personal blogs are all interactive media based on “Web 2.0” technology that surpasses web 1.0’s passively viewing experience and non-interactive homepage, but rarely do people consider these two things as the same thing simply because the experience associated with these two platforms are so different. It is same with Wikipedia and Facebook. As a result, people are more willing to consider these Web 2.0 services separately as search engines, blogs, wikipedia sites and social-networking sites instead of broadly referring them as Web 2.0 sites. So I guess maybe that’s one of the factors that contribute to the fading impact of the term Web 2.0.

Another interesting thing noted in the article is that when looking at the geographic regions that have generated the highest volumes of worldwide search traffic for the term over the years – it’s Asia, with the top 5 regions being India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia (in that order). This piece of fact demonstrates the particular significance of Web 2.0 for Asia. I think this is largely related to the great opportunities and business potentials brought about by Web 2.0 framework to Asia. Take Facebook for an example: in many other Capitalist market of the world such as Europe and America, Facebook takes a very significant share of the market as a social networking website. While in Asia, Facebook is more a type of inspiration, and a basic model for many local reconstructed or “clone” sites such as CyWorld (Korea), and Fropper (India), Renren (China), Mixi (Japan). These localized versions all occupy more share of the market than Facebook in their specific regions. So maybe it explains the popularity of terms of Web 2.0 in Asia, as the term signifies undeveloped potential for localization and endless space for innovation.

(Pic Source: Google Trend)