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Mobility may be Marvelous but Ubiquitous Access is Disruptive

12 Apr 2011

This morning's riff targets the opportunity of liberating activities that were once shackled to desktops and laptops by making them accessible anywhere. The massive shift to mobile is but one small step along the long road to ubiquitous access. By no means are mobile apps and phones the end form of access, instead they are a taste of what's to come1.

The form factor of a mobile phone, iPod or Tablet is inconsequential. Touching screens doesn't cause my mind to release endorphins like some Pavlovian dog2. Rapidly organizing data, molding information, extracting and visualizing analysis products from any location are the essential ingredients to ubiquitous access.

Whether I'm on the streets of Manhattan, deep in the Appalachian trails or on a tropical beach my need for unlimited access remains, and I don't believe I'm alone. Access isn't limited to or defined by an Internet connection, it is information liberation. Beyond data, access includes all the tools that we rely on to summon structure from chaotic data. Applying these tools from any location or development environment leads to greater understanding and yields informed action.

Access converges with personal freedom and promotes competition

The concepts of access, privacy, and information asymmetries are interrelated. Not only do we require access, but in order to uphold a free society we must respect personal privacy. Access without the right to privacy removes any notion of security, empowering anyone who would abuse this information3.

Potential manipulation of asymmetric information through artificial scarcity is a constant threat. Much like choice and liquidity in a free market economy, access promotes healthy competition between sources of data and custom services. If personal access is artificially restricted, it leads to an unbalanced relationship between the provider and its dependent clients4. This type of controlling relationship bears undeniable resemblance to agencies who achieve goals through force (the stick).

Asymmetric access isn't all doom and gloom. There's also great opportunity in disrupting asymmetric information barriers. Much like providing liquidity between steep value discrepancies, providing access to locked up personal data will be highly values by consumers and businesses alike.

Notes:

  1. Imagine our minds without bounds
  2. It's possible that a combination of touch gestures could induce a little drool, but only after 1 am ;), my sleep cycle is 10pm-4:30am
  3. Respecting privacy implies requiring warrants to go through personal data, tapping streams, etc. Examples of agencies who may abuse private information include corporations, criminals, and governments
  4. Asymmetric access due to information monopolies and parasitic relationships