From Sampling to Measuring

Gavin Clabaugh’s got a fun (and wise) new riff on the larger forces shaping our world:

I see this third force everywhere. I see it hiding inside the inaccurately named thing called “social networking. I see it embedded in “American Idol.” It follows me to the grocery store. It wakes me up at night. It’s busy working away on web pages and formatting RSS feeds. It’s reading your electric meter. It’s even there when you drive into a parking lot. It’s monitoring air quality, or temperature, and it’s in that vending machine down the hall tracking the ever-so-important availability of cheese-doodles.

The third force is all about the network and it’s all about the collapse of time. It’s all about a new network of machines, sensors, monitors, and even some humans, that spend their days tasting the world, and talking to other machines about what they’ve tasted. Sometimes it’s frightening.

I once characterized the third force as the move “from sampling to monitoring.” I figured soon we wouldn’t need things like statistical sampling to measure our world. I argued that we were increasingly moving to “real-time” measurements to understand the world. The time and distance between action and feedback would disappear. It’s come true.