Secular Prophesies

The Myth of the Myth of the Paperless Office

{Originally published in a paralegals publication in 2008}

With the advent of the computer in every home and business, paper was declared obsolete. But people in the real world found otherwise, and some even had more paper than before, thanks to the ability to produce the written (and therefore printed) word at record breakneck pace. Requirements for original signatures spurred the overnight shipping industry, dashing hopes that email would change the world. As soon as the decree against killing trees for Gutenberg’s descendants was ironically printed in magazines and other tactile media, it was declared a mistrial. Our information transversed time and space digitally, but in the end, met its fate on a dot matrix printer — the “last mile” for data was tread on pulp.

But in spite of admitting defeat — and monuments erected in the form of filing cabinets, the inscriptions of which were laser and toner but nonetheless on paper — history didn’t end there. The world changed in ways that we didn’t expect. Stable digital storage. High capacity drives and media. Optical character recognition (OCR). Digital archiving.

And though we thought we had lost the battle to eliminate paper, the need for speed and efficiency ignored our past. Digital signatures. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Portable File Documents (PDF). Email encryption keys for identity verification. The way we THOUGHT about data changed when in spite of giving up on going paperless, the technology to do it caught up with us.

Is your office paperless? Of course not. But huge amounts of data are free of arborous karma. Data is archived more and more by backing up, and less and less by printing out. We finally realize that it is easier to forward an email than print and hand it to the person next to you. Digital calendars, memos, newsletters, postings, and collaborations of all kinds make their only mark on the screen, never touched by human hands.

If paperless is not an absolute, but a degree, then the war was won after all. The initial efficiency of computers for data production outpaced its ability to store and transfer it without paper. Those days are no more. And the future is even brighter, carrying over paperlessness into every aspect of our lives. Online reservations. Online account statements. Biometric identity scans. RFID inventory tracking and personnel pass keys. Cardless PayPal commerce.

And this whole virtual world, with more data in our lifetime than the whole history of the world combined, can be scaled, replicated, and archived for eternity without “loosing” so much as a leaf.

Been in a coma for 15 years?

That’s what it is like if you haven’t mastered using email in your business yet.  The good news is other ways of doing things are just here, and you have another chance to get it right. Brought to you by www.Socialnomics.Com

Text excerpts:

  • By 2010 “Generation Y” will outnumber baby boomers.
  • 96% of them have joined a social network.
  • Social media has overtaken porn as the number one activity on the web.
  • One out of eight couples married in the US last year, met via social media.
  • It took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million users; 13 years for TV; for the Internet, four years. Facebook added 100 million users in less than nine months.
  • If Facebook were country, it would be the world’s fourth-largest.
  • 2009, US Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students outperformed those receiving face-to-face instruction. One in six higher education students are enrolled in online curriculum.
  • 80% of companies are using LinkedIn as their primary tool to find employees.
  • The fastest-growing segment on Facebook is 55 to 65-year-old females.
  • Ashton Kutcher and Ellen DeGeneres has more twitter followers than the entire population of Ireland, Norway and Panama.
  • 80% of twitter usage is on mobile devices people update anywhere, anytime — amazing what that means for bad customer experiences.
  • Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé — in 2009, Boston College stopped distributing e-mail messages to incoming freshmen.
  • YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, with 100 million videos.
  • Shown in studies to be more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia has over 13 million articles, 78% of which are non-English. If you were paid one dollar for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia. You would earn $156.23 — per hour.
  • There are over 200 million blogs with over half the bloggers posting content or tweeting daily.
  • 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content. A third of bloggers post opinions about products and brands.
  • 78% of consumers trust your recommendations; only 14% trust advertisements.
  • Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI. Hulu [Television show archive] has grown from 63 million total streams in April 2008 to 373 million in April 2009. 70% of 18 to 34-year-olds have watched TV on the web. Only 33% have ever viewed a show on DVR/TiVo. 25% of Americans in the past month said they watched of short video — on their phone.
  • 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation.
  • More than 1.5 million pieces of content (Web links, new stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook — daily.

Successful companies in social media act more like party planners, aggregators, and content providers than traditional advertisers.

Kinda changes things for nearly every business, doesn’t it?

Blast from the Past: The Operating System War is Over

{February 2004}

The battle between Windows and Linux was as intricate as any war could possibly be. And the fighting will continue as isolated skirmishes in chat rooms, bulletin boards and the occasional court battle. But the fate of the consumer computing market is sealed.

The whole time since IBM’s culture of computing empire was passed to Microsoft, the non-MS vote was divided between the Open Source non-empire and the third-party platform, Apple.

And in the war, Linux didn’t even show up on radar, though for a short while I was convinced it would eventually mature and become half of a two-standard world. Yes I was naive to think that Linux was even a viable OS instead of merely an operating platform (a distinction few made and to their own demise).

But the push for Linux boxes to flood the Chinese market — the last great untapped and undecided market for so many goods — simply never happened. There were to be two boxers in the ring, and one didn’t show up for the fight. If China would have chosen Linux, it would have staved off extinction. But now, it’s days as a possible widespread consumer platform are numbered.

The surrender of the global consumer computer OS market to Windows was figuratively signed yesterday between Bill Gates and Chinese President Hu, and again, the loser of the war didn’t even show. In fact, he wasn’t invited. And the relations between Microsoft and China may seal far more than even economic dominance by one of its corporate players, but add to the possibility of long-term world peace in its own way.

But in consumer computing, there will be no two-party system in China or the world for ages to come. The only thing that truly remains to be seen is if our world’s great-grandchildren will all be speaking in English or Chinese.

They, Robot — Coming Soon

{published in 2004}

Below is an advertisement for Honda from an old technology magazine (copyright 2002). I have been saying for years that the bridge between occasional and pervasive computer technology is not just quantitative, but qualitative, as in actively compter-controlled peripherals that are capable of interacting with the environment.

I don’t mean a thermostat telling the heater to go on. I mean taking the technology that physically sorts the mail and assembles components in manufacturing to the consumer level – having your computer open and close the garage door, or telling your car to put the hazards on if you’re not back in 60 seconds. In other words, computers that can DO things in the physical world apart from printing and playing MP3s.

And in the end, that means having computers with arms that can manipulate objects above and beyond task-specific automation. And THIS is an example of what I’m talking about.

We’re building a dream, one robot at a time.

The dream was simple. Design a robot that, one day, could duplicate the complexities of human motion and actually help people. An easy task? Hardly. But after more than 15 years of research and development, the result is ASIMO, an advanced robot with unprecedented human-like abilities. ASIMO walks forward and backward, turns corners,

and goes up and down stairs with ease. All with a remarkable sense of strength and balance.

The future of this exciting technology is even more promising. ASIMO has the potential to respond to simple voice commands, recognize faces, carry loads and even push wheeled objects. This means that, one day, ASIMO could be quite useful in some very important tasks. Like assisting the elderly, and even helping with household chores. In essence, ASIMO might serve as another set of eyes, ears and legs for all kinds of people in need.

All of this represents the steps we’re taking to develop products that make our world a better place. And in ASIMO’s case, it’s a giant step in the right direction.

Honda Robot Ad

In the Year 2000

{Published in 2004}

The year 2000, like every year in our living memory, has brought us wondrous new ideas and inventions. However, in a span of mere Springtime, several notable advances have taken place, almost completely unreported by the media, that are serious benchmarks in the advancement of human civilization.

These three things alone I am proud to have happened in my lifetime, let alone a few short months.

(1) The first complete mapping of the Human Genome. Entire fields of study are now officially off the theoretical lsit and in serious research and development, such as genomics and bioinformatics.

We’re not only talking about identifying the specific mechanisms of hereditary illnesses. We’re talking about the ability to create an entire pharmaceutical process based on “designer drugs” custom made for an individuals body chemistry.

Bad side? Genetic warfare, where chemicals can be made to target people based on genetic (racial) traits. Except in these last few years since then, we discovered there’s almost no such thing as “racial” traits. Whew!

The future? Removal of congenital illnesses before birth. Custom-ordered children and genetically “enhanced” humans (a mixed blessing and moral questionability).

(2) The invention of the Optical Processor. Information processed within a computer at the speed of light, using light waves instead of eletrical impulses over a conductive metal. Beats the <heck> out of the old 233 Mhz (or so) I started with back in 1996.

Bad side? It will become commerically available, but will be obsolete when quantum computers come around in the next generation or so. But optical RAM will come still in handy.

The future? Along with quantum processing (which is on the verge of no longer being theoretical as we speak – seriously), the home computer of my great-grandchildren will be able to do more than any machine can do today, even the supercomputer banks used by the big boys. And when you open an application, MAYBE you finally wont have to wait for it to open. It just will. And we all want to see Windows boot up like a light switch.

(3) Repeatability in Breaking the Speed of Light. You heard me. They did it once, and repeated the experiemnt in another lab. The shocker? The accelerated particle hit the target chronologically BEFORE it was fired, by a fraction of a millisecond.

Bad side? Re-writing physics books, or at least fighting endlessesly over the implications of time travel, yadda, yadda…

The future? No idea, but God broke a few rules if you take Einstein to be Gospel. Maybe the future will necessitate a whole new generation of philosopher-scientists, much as happend at the birth of Relativity vs. Quantum Mechanics almost four generations ago.

Addendum {2004}, from Quantum’s Next Leap:

At a late-January meeting in a Marriott off the Washington beltway in Falls Church, Va., the Defense Department’s main technology-research arm floated a proposal as nearly 100 scientists listened. They’d come from Boeing, IBM, Lockheed Martin, and other companies; from the Army, the Navy, and NASA; and from leading universities to hear a proposal for accelerating efforts to build a computer that theoretically could exist inside a coffee cup.

Within the next several months, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which will spend more than $2.8 billion this year on research and development for the Pentagon, is expected to launch a multimillion-dollar program to kick-start U.S. research in quantum computing, an esoteric area of inquiry under way at government labs, universities, and companies such as AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Microsoft. These supercomputers–built according to the strange laws of quantum physics, often operating at temperatures nearing absolute zero, and occupying spaces that can resemble a vial of liquid more than an electronic box–theoretically could perform within seconds calculations that take today’s machines hours and solve in hours problems that might require centuries if run on state-of-the-art silicon.

Addendum {2010}:

William Volterman commented in 2005, with similar challenges over the years regarding breaking the speed of light:

I dont know where you got your info about beating the speed of light but i can tell you this… if it sounds to good to be true it is… and that experiment even if it were true doesnt show what was claimed…

but back to the point… scientists often want to make a name for themselves… and not all scientists are equal

Apparently, the experiments I referred to remained obscure and are not accepted by mainstream scientists. In an email last year to a friend across the pond, I wrote …

I can’t find reference to the original experiments in France, but it may be related to this:

The results are questionable, and conclusions possibly wrong. My point was if they were correct, it would make sense to me.

So there you have it … or don’t quite have it rather. I stand corrected.

But it was still a good year.

The War on Digital Terror

{Published November 16th, 2004, not sent directly to actual senators}

Dear Senators:

If there were to be an attack on America, one that would disrupt the economy and the lives of countless millions of people, resulting in billions of dollars in damage to American businesses and governments, would you want to know?

What if I was to tell you that it’s too late? As you are reading this, we are now under attack. I am not talking of cyber-terrorists and hackers, but about businesses whose only gain is in jamming the Internet with mass marketing, intrusive data-gathering, and even wholesale computer hijacking in the name of profit.

American companies spent over $10 Billion dollars last year in lost productivity and security measures to prevent “spam” from disrupting communications on every level, from consumer ISPs to municipal networks. Even nuclear-attack-resistant datacenters are no longer safe, because the attack they must be ready for is no longer military in nature. But as in military technology, the war is never over, as software is developed to counter software systems that counter more software.

We are losing the war, as such a basic medium as email is becoming impossible to use for some. Apart from destruction of physical and intellectual property, breaches in such things as confidentiality, security, and identity are at constant risk, and are compromised on a scale never before possible.

The enemy has a name. We know who they are. They route traffic through mainland China and other countries to skirt the laws that can’t be passed fast enough to keep up, and yet many are American citizens, living in America. And many are mere shadows, erasing their tracks and only leaving an occasional consumer making a payment in the wake of out-of-control marketing where all the burden is on the country’s mail systems and the receivers of the messages, not the senders.

But this is a threat because Information Technology is the battlefront of our times. From e-Government and electronic health care record initiatives that will save countless lives and dollars, to a booming economy in every sector and supply chain, an attack in these areas can stagnate or even devastate our communications and economy in the long-term.

My point of this letter is not to debate a special interest topic, like global warming or tobacco lawsuits. This issue underpins everything in our lives. In the last few years, humanity has reached a benchmark more significant than the splitting of the atom. There is nothing that can stop the drive for total communications and access to all the world’s information everywhere and at all times. The Internet, modern phone systems, and networks that are yet to come will form a nebulous cloud of interconnected computers, communications devices, document systems, and appliances in all areas of modern life, private and commercial. It has already started – you can see it all around you. There may still be paper, but the paper age is clearly over. In other words, our lifeline to each other is no longer the Eisenhower Thruway System and telephone wires. Fiber optical cable and radio towers – not copper and asphalt – measure the true distance between our citizens and between us and the rest of the world.

Now I do not think it is inherently the government’s responsibility to fix problems in the commercial sector. However, the Internet is larger than any company, industry, or nation, and affects every citizen in every aspect of our lives, from freedom of speech, press, and assembly, as well as access to information, goods and services. This is a new way of life for America and the world, a way of life that is – and has been – under constant attack.

What I do ask is that government acknowledge the need for particular attention paid to this problem, which is perhaps a important as or similar to the need for a homeland security bureau. We must hunt down those who would constantly threaten this important aspect of our growing way of life as seriously as those who would do us physical harm in sporadic acts of terrorism.

Foster a commercial environment that would encourage consensus among the leaders of industry and information technology for standards of prevention. Create a legal climate that would impose extreme criminal penalties upon those who are found responsible for the dissemination of hostile code and unwarranted web traffic. Remember, they are not killing one person, but something perhaps much more serious – they are cumulatively taking away literally thousands of lifetimes of moments and effort from everyday people. Pursue such initiatives as rewards for hunters and finger-pointers of such companies and people, taken from the confiscation of all their assets. Hold companies, domestic and foreign, equally accountable for third-party marketing practices.

But do not wait to act. The leaders of the technology sector are doing what they can, but are not winning the war. The federal government must be their ally. The country is counting on them – and you – to save us from this unprecedented threat to the world’s potentially unprecedented prosperity.


Ken JP Stuczynski