There is no question the future is contextual – it has to be. The volumes of information thrown at us is increasing at such a pace, we can’t keep up if it isn’t contextual. So many people are talking about it. Scoble believes it so much, he is writing a book on it called ‘Age of Context’.
But, so far, the main piece of context we’ve known is location. Surely, there are cool things you can do with location, but that is still not the absolutely key contextual question you can answer. The contextual future will really arrive not just with the ‘where’, but with the ‘when’ – the ‘where’ is just a substitute for the ‘when’. Using the ‘where’ and certain other bits of information, the ‘when’ is derived by the human brain and ultimately used as the context. A good case for this was made on Techcrunch today.
When you look at traffic, you really want to know when or how long it will take you to get to your destination. When you get alerted as your spouse leaves work, you really want to know when he or she will get home. When people are waiting for you in a meeting room, they want to know when you might get there. Since the ‘when’ is more complex to get right, systems so far have been using the ‘where’ – e.g., telling the user that the spouse left work or where a person is, so that the rest of the blanks can be filled in by the human brain.
The real breakthrough in contextualization will come when devices can answer the ‘when’ – many efforts are underway by many major companies and the players that are able to understand how core the ‘when’ is to this equation and piece together solutions towards the vision of answering that question will drive our contextual future!