Many of us are familiar with computer
networks in the office (LANs — Local Area Networks) in which our PCs are constantly online at high speed to the company’s computing resource; we are also familiar with the relatively slow dial-up access to the Internet; and cell-phones are getting to be almost as common as talking heads.
Take those three ideas, merge them, add dash of this and that, and you have new spoonful of alphabet soup — GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), which means you have wireless Wide Area Networks (WANs), within which handheld devices that look like cell-phones can be online permanently at 115kbps to whatever the network offers. In short, mobile multimedia system.
In the first hundred years of telephony we connected billion people. In the next few years, by 2005, at least another billion are expected to be on — largely thanks to wireless technology such as GPRS, satellite, etc.
MIT’s Project Oxygen wants everyone on Planet E on by 2010. So add Oxygen to the GPRS/satellite scenario, with ubiquitous devices powered by Raw Chips (see this column, November 1999), and you have wireless Wide Area Network, in which everyone “lives” — with access, on voice-command, to anyone, any data, any video, any TV, any radio, any phone, any videophone — pretty well anything anywhere. Third-generation cyberspace. Coming soon to your face. It will change things tad.
GPRS test-sites are already up and running in China, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Sweden, and the UK. (Where is New Zealand? Why isn’t Tyrannosaurus Rex, aka Telecom New Zealand, going all-out for us in this brave new world?)

What do you call it?
What, one wonders, will we end up calling the little gizmos that link us all to this third-generation cyberworld? In the sci-fi series Earth 2 everyone donned “the gear”, but that does not seem starter. Nor does MIT’s unimaginative “Handy 21” seem likely to catch on. It is probable that we will have some outgrowth of an existing word or merger of words.
So perhaps cell-phone will morph into net-phone. Or, far more likely, mobile phone will truncate itself to mobile, as it already has, but gain far wider meaning. Thus we shall be saying such things as: “Have look on your mobile;” “I’ll talk to you later on your mobile;” “See you on your mobile;” “I saw the race on my mobile;” “I’ll email you on your mobile;” “Check your statement on your mobile;” “Page him on his mobile;” “Point your mobile at the view so that I can see it” etc, etc.
And the theme song will be from Verdi’s Rigoletto: “Don emobile?” We shall see.

Look, as they say, for this sign. The Mobile Multimedia Mode (WWW:MMM) is an initiative launched by Ericsson, Nokia and Motorola to make it easy for the rest of us on Planet E to recognise the products/services/sites that comply with mobile internet applications. That logo with the WWWs shadowed below by MMMs tells you they do.
Like the Woolmark, but not wool.

Trust Kiwi teleworkers
Bevis England, long-time campaigner and advocate for “telework” – “working from afar” — has set up charitable trust, the NZ Telework Development Trust, to help push the cause along. Its seven aims can be seen at www.telework.co.nz/tinzo4.htm.

Its possible to believe that today’s addresses are getting mite cluttered. So roll on the day when we can all be identified electronically as simply and directly as we can for snail mail — by name and location.
Then, instead of chopped spaghetti of numbers, slashes and letters, Bevis England would be [email protected] for email, [email protected] for phone calls and voicemail; [email protected] for faxes; [email protected] for pager; [email protected] for post office box. Or something similar. At very worst it need not be any more complicated.
Then none of us would find it difficult to reach people. If we knew the name, the city, the country and an available method of communication, that would be enough. If the recipient did not have that method, the network would bounce the message/connection back to us or default to one that did exist for that person.
If everyone on Planet E is to be connected soon, we need to do something soonest.

Nobilangelo Ceramalus is writer, desktop publisher, graphics designer, webmaster and image processor.

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