Peter Morville, author of Ambient Findability, extols a world some of us have been pondering for awhile. In my case, first as a means to make a virtual reality world more fun and real, then as a tool for real time monitoring and simulation for public safety systems.
Morville wants a world more dreadful than I thought I could imagine because a world I could imagine and did, he actually wants.
That means we are at the tipping point of unwisdom.
If IA and ambient findability are his goals, he has found a perfect Judas Goat. A prediction is quite easy. Collision detection, real time asset tracking, GPS to the map, querying from inside the application by through use of proximity emergent situations, these are all the favorite topics of the real-time 3D community, aka, Virtual Reality. This is now the faovrite topic of the security service companies and the public safety companies. IBM will push hard for standards for the 3D Internet, and these technologies will merge in the new Internet made possible by higher bandwidth technologies.
At the same time, technologies will be developed to shield some from the views afforded by others (it's easy to do using the fact of the update protocols for MU views), and some will have full access for the right price or the right political position. The Chinese will be unhappy if their people can see what the Americans are doing, same for some Muslim emirates, and so on. Laws will be discussed and past about the requirements of full fidelity or merely representational models at the coordinates of meatspace (can a VR map of New York still have the Twin Towers?) and so on.
Life will become a game in an ever more real and simultaneously virtual sense. Just as the filtering and bias of other media today enables warping of decisions made, this will drive it even more incredibly to believe the unbelievable and accept the unacceptable. So perhaps this new ambient findable world is the ultimate tool for the Overton flush.
Knowing a bit about how the machine grinds, Morville will soon be a favorite speaker at conferences that the TLA organizations fund and attend (say XML 2007, Semantic Web, etc.). Meanwhile, others will claim to have thought of all of this first (see Intergraph's new CTO, Peter Batty) and some will be implementing the prototypes as products slowly and others will be hooking up the ground-up technologies that emerge from the open technical lists. For example, searching out of an X3D world through the SAI is not a difficult problem. The problem is sorting the query return into something representable in a 3D world (not just text) and how complex that representation can be (Eg, does a screw have screw behaviors) and who's semantic definitions are applied (it's expensive to keep a world of very local behaviors instead of standard ones).
But that is future. For now, it is just real time tracking of tagged assets. As a small company wrote in their literature at the beginning of the 3D web, circa 1993-94, "Our products are used by the security agencies to track criminals and fight crime. Criminals use our products to manage warehouses and track assets."
Welcome to a civilization of pirates.