In a Sunday comment piece in the Guardian UK/ the Observer, Vincent Cerf highlighted his belief that most of the world will access the internet via their cell phones and that will lead to an explosion of online information:
There are more than three billion mobiles in use today and more than 80 per cent of the world’s population live within range of a network. In areas where wireline or WiFi access barely exists, many new users will first experience the internet through a mobile phone. In developing economies, people are already finding innovative ways to use mobile technology. Grameen’s micro-finance and village phone programmes in Bangladesh and elsewhere are known and respected around the world, but there are many less famous examples. During the Kenyan elections, Mobile Planet provided its subscribers with up-to-the-minute results by text message. As the cost of mobile technologies fall, the opportunities for such innovation will continue to grow.
We’re nearing the tipping point for mobile computing to deliver timely, geographically and socially relevant information. Researchers in Japan recently proposed using data from vehicles’ windscreen wipers and embedded GPS receivers to track the movement of weather systems through towns and cities with a precision never before possible. It may seem academic, but understanding the way severe weather, such as a typhoon, moves through a city could save lives. Further exploration can shed light on demographic, intellectual and epidemiological phenomena, to name just a few areas.
It’s amazing how quickly those of us with internet access have come to take for granted the remarkable amounts of information we have at our disposal, but we’re only seeing the beginnings. The bulk of human knowledge remains offline. As more of us get access to the internet, more of the world’s information will find its way online.
Both the medium (cell phones) and the message (the increased amount of human knowledge) speak directly to the growing role that local will play in the ecosystem of information retrieval.