Mobile

Digital days. So much going on, and computers whirring in the background storing it all. In my next book, The Hourglass, I will again move away from past and focus on the future. I’ll take a month’s break before I begin, to recharge the batteries—not more, because time is never on our side, despite appearances, and because I feel guilty that Clear Eyes so rudely interrupted my progress.

One of the trends of the new society I’ve conceived—or more properly that we already see the beginnings of—is that ordinary people perceive it as mobile, as we wander round gazing at smartphones, running into lamp posts or colliding with bicycles. Meanwhile, all the data collected from the ants, in fact a portrait of the whole anthill, is being stored in monolithic machines that live in gigantic data centers—the apocryphal ‘cloud’.

You use social media on a daily basis, you correspond using Gmail (whether or not you hold an account), you use Whatsapp. You do this as you drive, even though you’re not supposed to. You watch YouTube.

You use Waze for navigation. The cloud dilligently stores your progress.

YouTube was created by three guys from PayPal. Google paid $1.65 billion for it sixteen months later.

Waze was originally an Israeli company. Google bought it in 2013 for $1.3 billion. The average payout to each of the one hundred original employees? $1.2 million—that’s a lot of shekels.

Let’s write down a few Ws about you. Next to them, the tools you use, and in brackets, who owns them.

What. Google, Facebook, YouTube (Google), Whatsapp (Facebook), Skype (Microsoft), Gmail (Google), Hotmail (Microsoft).

Where. Google maps, Waze (Google), Skype. Any app that logs an IP or cellphone location.

Who. Gmail, Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype.

Wow. How is the rogue keyword that doesn’t start with a W. But all the above combined give you the How—if we know what you did, where you did it, and who you did it with, we might as well call it Wow.

Why. This is the hardest of all, the motive. But wait… is it really that hard to get inside your head? We’re witnessing diligent storage of your data in the cloud,  along with your network of contacts (Who), frequency and form of communication, to which you could add your credit card records (more of the Where and What), and why not Mobile Pay?

The mobile pay market is worth hundreds of billions at present.

The mobile pay market is worth hundreds of billions at present.

Mobile Pay is rampant in the US, and in Africa—where a significant part of the population doesn’t have a bank account—the system is moving poor people away from cash and into a digital economy, and big business is up in arms. There’s a war on to capture this market, and the opposing sides are the big tech companies, who currently control the system, and the big banks.

One of the big players is a system called Android Pay. Who created it? Our friends at Google.

There you have it, our brave new world. Some of this stuff came through in Atmos Fear, where network software is used to map an email account—Inbox, Sent, Trash—the lot. To what end? To match subject to content, content to recipient, frequency of contact… To build a pattern, to look for the Why.

That’s something I can assure you permeates all my books. If you read something weird and Google it, the odds are it’s based on fact. That’s down to research,  which is one of the reasons I write this weekly chronicle.

But there are other reasons.

Because I like to share my thoughts. Because it improves my writing. Because it calms the beast in me that’s straining to get out. Because I want folks to read my books. And as my readership increases, I want to stay in touch with my readers—my way of giving back.

And in writing this piece, I’ve had an epiphany. Peter Wibaux will never die. His personality might change when he’s bequeathed, but he is immortal.

Completely by accident, I’ve discovered the secret of eternal life. All you need is a pen.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, and Clear Eyes. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, and Clear Eyes. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

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