Saturday 17 October 2009

iPhone Saves Lives on Subsequent Saturdays

Two weeks ago, to the day, a viral went around a corner of the web about the Heimlich manoeuvre, and I watched it with some interest as these seemed to be a good thing to know how to do. That evening my Mother-in-law came over to our place, as usual, so that myself and El could pop out for a pint and a bite to eat in our favourite locale. We’re spoilt – what can I say.

So, I’m minding our youngest - Felix, with other various children of various ages clambering over me. Total Wipeout USA is on and this can transfix the kids with slapstick hilarity, which is useful if you’re getting ready to jump ship; or hype them up, which isn’t. It had done the latter. ‘Emmet,’ I hear in cross sounding tones. I consider options and causes. Something has split. Kid has fallen over. Close the clasp on my necklace. There may have been another ‘Emmet’ as I tried to heave my progeny from my belly... but then came a crystal clear ‘EMMET!’ I’m off.

Mother-in-law walking lost and directionless around the kitchen, and then leaning against the wall – lips blue, with a green tinge around her mouth and nose. ‘She’s choking,’ say’s El in a mysterious calm. On auto-pilot, I take over. ‘Kids out... Out! Everyone out!’ I shout, and they leave. ‘Can’t do mouth to mouth, or emergency tracheotomy while explaining why I'm stabbing nanny in the neck to traumatised tiny people’ I say to myself. ‘Not ideal at least’. I spin Mother-in-law around... knot my hands, feel under the ribs, front and side aiming for the diaphragm and say into her ear ‘I’m going to do this... OK?’ She agrees. Two or three violent hoicks later, her feet leaving the ground and I hear the strangled whistle of air through a barely open pipe. ‘You’re breathing now. You’ve got a breath. You’ll be alright now I say...’ She recovers in minutes, and, in shock, pretends nothing happened. We all do. But, on the way to the pub I say to El... ‘It worked. Isn’t that amazing! A simple technique has saved us from a very different Saturday. I watched it on the web, and it worked!’

(It also crosses my mind in true Les Dawson fashion... 'You had your chance, Mother-in-law choking already. No witnesses. Blew it. You had to turn into Superman... Didn't you! Then again... Think of the babysitting! She owes me big-time!)

A week later, to the day, El has gone to upstairs after lunch... not feeling well. She comes down and announces. ‘I don’t feel well at all. Look at me! I’m all red!’ And she is. Ears bright red, very flushed, eyes even seeming to bulge a little, and lips a shade of cherry Max Factor would patent. ‘I think it’s an allergic reaction. Anaphylactic shock!’ There was a film I saw a while back where the main actor looked similar and had to be rushed to the chemist I remember, but Ellen had never had anything like that before. Out comes the iPhone, and Dr. Google informs me these are indeed the symtoms, and also the symptoms of an allergic reaction to fresh mackerel which hasn’t been cooled down quickly enough. We had mackerel for lunch. I’m off. Just going to the chemist you need some strong anti-hystamin I call as the door shuts behind me. The chemist tells me that indeed, it sounds like anaphylactic shock, but I’m to get back quick in case the breathing starts to go. The car roars away from the chemist but as soon as I get in the door, I’ve been gone maybe 3 minutes, Ellen tells me... ‘I can’t even breath properly.’ Kids are flung bodily into the jeep, some still in PJs with wife propped in the passenger seat. The lights are with me as we belt for St. Michael’s Dun Laoghaire and I drop her at the door. She hobbles in to safety, an injection, and recovery some hours later. Phew. Typically perhaps I say to El... ‘Isn’t that amazing. Dr. Google had the symptoms. That bloody mackerel.’

Why am I telling you this? It’s Saturday, and I’ve suddenly become quite worried about being any distance from my iPhone and the instant, life saving information it provides. In fact, this week, it’s probably my turn! L

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Google Defends it's Turf from Apps

NEW YORK ( -- Google wants to own the search experience across every mobile media platform, and its latest offering is a universal search box that lets users of Android-based smartphones look for apps, contact information and web content right from the device's home screens.

Monday 12 October 2009

The Cloud, Collaboration and Polaroid Glasses

I was watching Richard Dawkins last night on TV and he made me ask some important questions about the Net.

He asked what is it when individual neurons act together – millions and billions of them collaborating to produce a person, with intelligence and the capacity for self reflection – and something that some may call a soul?

And following on from this I ask, what is it when tools of collaboration - such as a fluid for messages to flow through serves this function, permitting a physical, social, psychological and educational quantum leap for a group of individuals within a body, or for entire echelon within a social group. Each person plays the role of a neuron, and the body is an echelon otherwise known as the digerati or a part of it. The lubricant of collaboration (closing the gap between the synapse) is social media and tools like Google Wave, file-sharing and torrents or open source software.

As the Roman army well knew – the essence of social advantage arises from collaboration, genius and good communication. Over-stretching the supply chain leads to failure.

And I further ask: what is it when elements of human society take on (inherit), this advantageous, favourable gene – each neuron, both selfishly and generously, using it to their advantage, growing more influential, quicker and more efficient through the communication with other similarly favoured neurons (twitter/facebook through smartphones/mini-pc’s). And what becomes of this group of super cells when they exist within a milieu of similarly favoured or not so favoured ones? Do they become a cancer, a brain, or a new speciality organ charged with information, educational and development?

Is it true that access to information and learning together with the capacity to process, understand and reproduce that information – to appropriate it – gives advantage and success?

I suspect so, and this in essence, is what twitter and social media and Google wave are doing and providing for individuals within the digital society, and the power of these individuals is not their own access to information, (anyone who can search Wikipedia or Google has this), but their group access to a larger cloud of individuals who filter an even greater reach of information. In a world which truly is overloaded with data and facts, intelligent filtration is everything.

Seeking facts through a cloud brings clarity out of confusion, like looking at the bottom of a pond through Polaroid glasses. The better and stronger the glasses, the deeper and clearer you can see. So being part of a good generous cloud of bright people is more advantageous for information processing and finding the fish, than being a blind boffin in your own right, swamped by light from every angle, and without any dinner.

Experts and agencies remind individuals of their weakness and ignorance and dependency, and act as a source of disempowerment and alienation. For example, the days of adverts for household cleaners with an ‘expert’ in the white coat saying ‘It’s Vortex’ are long gone. His place is being taken by a cloud of product users who profile and report on product qualities. All are empowered, inclusive and seeking a better truth.

The net has always embraced the cloud and the multitude and its growth has been explosive as a result, since the days of Usenet and AOL, through to the likes of facebook, twitter, Linux and Wikipedia. These have grown more quickly, and been more successful than any individual or company could ever have hoped to be. The growth of the cloud has been simply exponential and collaboration is its fuel.

Clouds are now the source of news and truth and growth and development. Cloud members trust the recommendations of friends and colleagues above any other source. People always did, we just couldn’t see it, or measure it the way we can in a digitally mediated space. Collaboration takes place in social media, twitter, and file-sharing spaces, and through development tools like Google wave, open source software and open APIs. Fluency in the understanding and use of these collaborative tools gives advantage to the individuals within clouds in their access to information through and collaboration with the other larger ones.

In 1976 Richard Dawkin's wrote his influential book 'The Selfish Gene'. In 2009 the net and social media have shown that 'The Collaborative Gene' gives a model much closer to the truth.