A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

FitnessSyncer - A Preview of the Internet of Things

One of my great frustrations which has accompanied the proliferation of smartphone apps and smart appliances has been the inability to automatically summarize all of the useful data I am able to collect from all the various data streams collected from diet, exercise, and other lifestyle improvement tools. The Internet of Things, in short, has become a cluttered, unsynchronized cesspool. My attention, given my short attention span, has tended to shift to more important things, such as the score of the latest baseball game, etc.

Apparently, a few super smart people at #Microsoft have anticipated or perhaps has been hearing complaints similar to mine that some of us are more easily overwhelmed than others by unconnected, unsynchronized data. An unintended consequence of this generalized data alienation, I think, has been market confusion. Sadly, the public perception of the utility of all this data collection and wonderful gadgets has probably been getting lost in the clutter. How many billions of dollars in lost revenues has Microsoft squandered because nobody gets Microsoft's long-term vision. Developments surrounding the Internet of Things have become like the tree falling in the forest analogy. I read somewhere the other day that Google is developing a fitness app. In this case, perhaps, I get the sneaking suspicion that the "Neanderthal" Microsoft has actually beaten the "Hipster" Google to market? Is this truly possible? Why aren't more people talking about this remarkable development?

I've been trying to prepare for the coming school year, with summer school starting for me next Monday. Part of that process has been to try to gather resources, a process I need to accelerate because I am quickly running out of time. While "borrowing" (mass downloading) all of the 6th grade common core assessments so generously made available by Becky Berg through her Google Site at BPS K-6 Common Core, (nothing like collecting free documents that align perfectly with my curriculum), I started rearranging my Windows 8 Live Tiles. In playing all day with the Live tiles, I gained new insights on the zeitgeist underlying the evolution of the Internet of Things which is about to take control of all of our appliances, like the all-knowing brain from The Wrinkle in Time.

Today, while walking Mabel along the stream behind the Audrey Moore Recreation Center, I was listening on my smart phone on my bluetooth headset to Oliver Sack's The Mind's Eye. Dr. Sacks, a renowned neuroscientist was describing how, after he lost foveal focus in his right eye after contracting a melanoma, the portions of the brain deprived of sensory stimulation started filling in the missing space with reasonable representations. That reminded me of V.S. Ramachandran's descriptions of phantom limbs, which sent continued to send feedback even after amputations. When I think of The Internet of Things, I am reminded of a graphic of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's noosphere. which I recall from a philosophy course I took during my Sophomore year 30 years ago. I remember how all the psychic streams from humanity were shown converging as if towards a mystical omega. The philosopher anticipated digital convergence but came up with an unfortunate, awkward name for it, which may explain why so few people took notice, and why not more of us did not invest in Microsoft after graduating from college.

Microsoft has always wanted to position itself at the heart of everybody's lives. Windows 8 Live Tiles represent an artifact representing just how close Microsoft, and Google for that matter, are to realizing this desire, ironically, at a time when tablet sales are about to overtake sales of PC's, with the operating system increasingly no longer at the center of things.

Windows 8 Live Tiles display streams of dynamic content from various feeds, kind of like a stock ticker, which it can provide, but in a much broader and more innovative way. Live tiles provide a stream of pictures, my events from my Task Manager, social media pictures, data from my Bing Health Health Tracker, etc. Great concept, which nobody really got, which is why Windows 8 has been universally bashed by critics, who nearly universally have badgered Microsoft to "return to the desktop." Many critics just don't get it. After playing with Live Tiles for a day, it makes perfect sense to make the desktop just one of many tiles.

In exploring the Bing Health Diet and Exercise Trackers, I discovered Microsoft's HealthVault. Many many hours later, I finally finished "borrowing" all of Becky's common core assessments, and about the same time, I began to see how everything connected through the HealthVault / FitnessSyncher ecosystem. Too bad Fitlinxx hasn't joined the party. That would make way too much sense.