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McLuhan Tetrad & technology food chain analysis

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As I read RFID chips watch Grandma brush teeth, I had the thoughts that I so often have about RFID:

How will the story read above the fold in the New York Times?

What are the secondary effects?

What is the latency or persistency of a feature that was 'good' but can later morph into something 'bad' -- or the reverse?

What user perception issues will overdrive purely technical issues?

Where is the point of confluence where a group of tags takes on a very different capability, or threat, or completely new application?

The Marshall McLuhan "tetrad" analysis comes again to mind as a predictive tool to gauge the impact of emerging information technologies. I use the tetrad in a wide variety of applications in conjunction with technology food chain analysis. I think that the process has great merit to emerging RFID.

This pair of approaches has good application in any series of technology fields, either a fast moving field or a 'stagnant' field in which you are looking for a 'flip condition' to make something old very relevant. I used it to good effect for Japanese firms seeking an early, low/no risk point to invest in US firms:

RFID chips watch Grandma brush teeth
11:50 17 March 04
NewScientist.com news service

Tiny computer chips that emit unique radio-frequency IDs could be slapped on to toothbrushes, chairs and even toilet seats to monitor elderly people in their own homes.

Data harvested from the RFID chips would reassure family and care-givers that an elderly person was taking care of themselves, for example taking their medication. Unusual data patterns would provide an early warning that something was wrong.

Gordon Housworth



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