dConstruct 2010: Tom Coates on the sexy future

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth


Great presentation by Tom Coates to kick off the final session of the day, unless you’re a semantic web fan, in which case it was heresy and the root of all evil in the world. He was drawing a parallel between the work of King Darius in the year A Long Time Ago BC, who built a new transport network across Persia, and transformed the country as a result. (Prior to that, princes of Persia had to jump across roofs to get around).

Today, we’re in a similar situation, as we evolve the web from a place where each site was complete unto itself, into a place where the interaction of sites, through the exchange of data creates a new network that will reshape the world. Lanyrd.com is an example of something that was built quickly and easily from data from other sites. (But it isn’t the semantic web that’d driving that. The top-down approach has been superseded by a more organic approach to building links  – which is orthogonal to the efforts of the key semantic advocates.)

Aside: he built a slide with 150 transitions in 30 seconds. I am in awe….

That network is beginning to extend beyond the world of sites, into network-enables devices. He gave a range of examples from the Boris Bike to parking in San Francisco, but I’m going to focus on the Internet-connected scales. You could scan Twitter for the tweets from the scales, and do trends and maps… OK, back to the parking then – by tracking use and networking the data with traffic information, they can vary parking prices to ensure that there’s always one parking space per block, and thus make traffic flow more efficient… Interconnected data opens up the possibility of positive changes to a physical living environment.

And that’s what brings us back to Darius. We’re building the inromation network that the next generation will build on to change the world.


I hope he puts those slides online. They were just beautiful.

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.