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Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology

ISBN: 978-1-118-17607-8
252 pages
September 2012
Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology (1118176073) cover image

We are facing a future of unbounded complexity.  Whether that complexity is harnessed to build a world that is safe, pleasant, humane and profitable, or whether it causes us to careen off a cliff into an abyss of mind-numbing junk is an open question. The challenges and opportunities--technical, business, and human--that this technological sea change will bring are without precedent. Entire industries will be born and others will be laid to ruin as our society navigates this journey. 

There are already many more computing devices in the world than there are people.  In a few more years, their number will climb into the trillions. We put microprocessors into nearly every significant thing that we manufacture, and the cost of routine computing and storage is rapidly becoming negligible.  We have literally permeated our world with computation.  But more significant than mere numbers is the fact we are quickly figuring out how to make those processors communicate with each other, and with us. We are about to be faced, not with a trillion isolated devices, but with a trillion-node network: a network whose scale and complexity will dwarf that of today’s Internet. And, unlike the Internet, this will be a network not of computation that we use, but of computation that we live in

Written by the leaders of one of America’s leading pervasive computing design firms, this book gives a no-holds-barred insiders’ account of both the promise and the risks of the age of Trillions. It is also a cautionary tale of the head-in-the-sand attitude with which many of today’s thought-leaders are at present approaching these issues. Trillions is a field guide to the future--designed to help businesses and their customers prepare to prosper, in the information.

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Preface xi

Acknowledgments xvii

Chapter 1 The Future, So Far 01

Trillions Is a Done Deal 02

Connectivity Will Be the Seed of Change 05

Computing Turned Inside Out 07

The Power of Digital Literacy 11

Chapter 2 The Next Mountain 15

Fungible Devices 16

Liquid Information 25

Cyberspace for Real 30

Interlude Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: Platforms and User Interfaces 39

Yesterday 40

Today 41

Tomorrow 44

Chapter 3 The Tyranny of the Orthodoxy 51

Information Interruptus 52

The King and the Mathematician 60

Links to Nowhere 63

The Wrong Cloud 65

The Dream of One Big Computer 67

The Grand Repository in the Sky 68

FUD and the Birth of the Impostor Cloud 69

The Children’s Crusade 71

The Peer-to-Peer Bogey 80

Chapter 4 How Nature Does It 83

The Internet of Plants 84

Nature Has Been There Before 85

The Qualities of Beautiful Complexity 93

At the Intersection of People and Information 102

Chapter 5 How Design Does It 105

Birth of Industrial Design 107

Novelty, Beauty, Ritual, and Comfort 113

Hearing History Rhyme 114

Instability as the Status Quo 117

Post-Industrial Design 119

Interlude Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: Data Storage 133

Yesterday 133

Today 136

Tomorrow 136

Chapter 6 Design Science on Trillions Mountain 139

Beyond Design Thinking to Design Science 140

Make the Right Thing 143

Chapter 7 Architecture with a Capital “A” 167

Architecture as Organic Principles 169

Architecture as Model 170

Architecture as “Style” 171

Information Architecture 173

Architecture and Design Science 178

Chapter 8 Life in an Information Ecology 181

Components 183

Challenges in the Information Ecology 188

Chapter 9 Aspects of Tomorrow 205

Beyond the Internet 206

Simplification 208

Devices 210

The Information Commons 212

The World Wide Dataflow 213

Publishing 216

Safety, Security, and Privacy 218

Epilogue Thriving in the Spacious Foothills 221

Seize the Low Ground 224

Microtransactions and the Rise of T-Commerce 225

Strange Bedfellows 226

Big Data and Information Visualization 226

The Trillions Bubble 227

Notes 231

About the Authors 245

Index 247

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PETER LUCAS is founding principal at MAYA Design, which he cofounded in 1989. He is also adjunct associate professor of Human Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a PhD from Cornell University, where he studied educational and cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics. He served on the Committee on Networked Systems of Embedded Computers of the National Research Council.

JOE BALLAY is former head of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University and a founding principal of MAYA Design. An interdisciplinarian, he holds an MFA in design from Carnegie Mellon University, a BFA in industrial design from the University of Illinois, and a BS in industrial management from Carnegie Institute of Technology. He has taught design at universities throughout the world.

MICKEY McMANUS is president and CEO of MAYA Design. He holds a BFA in industrial design from the University of Illinois, with extended studies in communication design and mathematics. His work has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, Fortune, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of design, pervasive computing, and business innovation.

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“This book provides a refreshing, insightful guide to how companies can prepare for future technology innovations and thrive in this emerging information age.  Summing Up:  Recommended.  Business and computer science collections serving upper-division undergraduates and above; general readers.”  (Choice, 1 July 2013)

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October 01, 2012
Trillions is a Winner of the Axiom Business Books Award!

Peter Lucas, Joe Ballay and Mickey McManus, leaders of one of America’s top pervasive computing design firms, are proud to announce the release of their book “Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology.” Trillions explores a future that is no longer confined to the pages of science fiction - when instead of information being “in” our computers; people, products, environments, and cultures begin to live “in” the information.

 

Written by the principals of MAYA Design, this is an insiders’ account of both the promise and the risks of a world containing trillions of computing devices. It is also a cautionary tale of the head-in-the-sand attitude with which many of today’s thought leaders are approaching these issues. Trillions is designed to help businesses and their customers prepare to not only survive, but thrive in a massively connected world. 

“There are already more computing devices in the world than there are people, and in a few more years, their number will climb into the trillions,” says Mickey McManus, co-author of Trillions and President and CEO of MAYA Design. “With a trillion embedded devices, people will no longer have the attention or patience to tolerate untamed complexity. We wrote this book to explore how we can design for a future that is permeated with computation, and how we can make the future human-literate instead of forcing us all to become computer-literate.”

 

The ramifications of a trillion networked nodes will be felt by individuals and businesses alike. Trillions is a field guide to the future, where firms will disappear and new ones will be born overnight.

 

“The computer revolution is just getting started,” adds Peter Lucas, co-author of Trillions and Founding Principal at MAYA Design. “Having one PC or even having 8 or 10 devices isn’t the end of the story, it’s only the beginning. Once we reach a critical threshold of computing density and connectedness, things are going to evolve quickly into something quite different from the present.”

 

Published by John Wiley & Sons, “Trillions: Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology” is available today in bookstores across the country. 

 

About the Authors

 

PETER LUCAS is founding principal at MAYA Design, which he cofounded in 1989. He is also adjunct associate professor of Human Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a PhD from Cornell University, where he studied educational and cognitive psychology and psycholinguistics. He served on the Committee on Networked Systems of Embedded Computers of the National Research Council.

 

JOE BALLAY is former head of the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University and a founding principal of MAYA Design. An interdisciplinarian, he holds an MFA in design from Carnegie Mellon University, a BFA in industrial design from the University of Illinois, and a BS in industrial management from Carnegie Institute of Technology. He has taught design at universities throughout the world.

 

MICKEY McMANUS is president and CEO of MAYA Design. He holds a BFA in industrial design from the University of Illinois, with extended studies in communication design and mathematics. His work has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, Fortune, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of design, pervasive computing, and business innovation.

 

 

TRILLIONS

Thriving in the Emerging Information Ecology

Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Publication date: October 1, 2012

$34.95; Hardcover; 272 pages; ISBN: 978-1-118-17607-8

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