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What sets us humans apart is the speed at which our means of communication develops and innovates. Technology has been helping us to communicate easier, faster and more often. We’re now at a point where we’re “always on” and panic sets in when we temporarily lose the ability to communicate – for example when we lose the data connection our mobile phone.
As with all innovation the direction we innovate is a combination of what is technically possible and what is socially desirable. Technological developments determine the possibilities, but our needs determine which technology will actually break through and remain a facet of our life. Morse code, Telex, Fax, iMode, WAP and ICQ have all been replaced by better and easier-to-use tools. Communicating with random strangers through Chatroulette didn’t quite make it, but who knows what will happen with Airtime.
However, in spite of technological developments, we still don’t seem to understand each other. Google is working on Google Translate for speech, but if we can translate the message, does that really mean that we understand what the other person is saying?
What we want is less noise, more context, ease of use, ease of access and the certainty that our listeners understand the message. We’d like our messages to end up with the right person, without governments, corporations or cybercriminals peeking at information that isn’t meant for them. We’d even like to spur people into action. We have always used communication to convince or even make other people do what we want. Improved communication technologies help us to do that quicker and on a larger scale, hugely influencing the next divide between the haves and the have-nots.
Where will this lead us?
We asked 6 experts from different fields to share their view on the future of communication.