When the digital world controls the physical one...

The digital world is rapidly encroaching into our physical one... Have you been paying attention?

Not too long ago there was a clear divide between our digital world of Facebook, twitter, email, blogs and feeds and our physical world of switches and cars and "stuff". With the exception of "vibrate mode on a phone" activities in the digital world rarely had a direct impact on our physical one. As I type this the divide is rapidly closing and it isn't hard to see a future where this is virtually no divide at all.

As exhibit A take a close look at ITTT.com (If This Then That). This web service allows you to build "recipes" that blend together nearly any part of your digital world (phone voice mail, email, text messages, CNN news feeds, weather forecasts and more) into "outputs" that allow you to, for instance, create a rule that sends you a text message any time your Facebook stocks goes over $30/share (not that it ever will again). ITTT.com was cool already but now it can connect to two appliance that govern our physical world  - the Belkin outlet switch and the Phillips Hue light controller.

This allows you to create ITTT recipes that automatically turn on your hall light if you get an email with the subject "late" after 5:00pm. Alternatively you could create a recipe that changes the hue of your lights to pale blue if your tweets contain any words associated with "sad". Combining hue and switches with social and web services allows you to manage your physical environment automatically based on happenings in the digital worls.

Exhibit B takes a look at the Samsung party event hosted in NYC (http://creativity-online.com/work/samsungthump-up-next/31897) that allows party goers to control fireworks displays using their smart phones - with one lucky winner receiving the rights to control the show remotely while watching a webcast of the event. It isn't hard to see this concept taking off - giving party and bar patrons the ability to control light shows and environment aspects to their liking.

Next up? How about a remote "tap you on the shoulder" or maybe internet controlled joy buzzers strategically placed around the office or a water balloon launcher. I suspect we are just beginning to see the impacts of the intersection between physical and digital worlds colliding.


Lincoln Academy High school program review

On a whim I clicked on a link from AOL to the Lincoln Academy who's website proudly states:

Earn your accredited high school diploma online with Lincoln Academy today

My question was simply: How much does a high school degree from Lincoln Academy cost?

Being the suspicious type I decided to look over their site and learn more. At an amazingly low price of only $299 for a high school diploma I thought at first that I'd stumbled onto the future of online education. I do see a future where all high learning institutions will offer pure online versions of their curriculum at a fraction of their "on site" tuition costs - maybe Lincoln Academy was on the forefront of this trend...

After reading through their site and then chatting online with their customer service rep I realized that the fee only covers administering the tests. No actual education was being offered. You could order "study guided" for only $15/subject - but there was actually no education being offered for this price.

Unless the study guides say "the answer to question 12 is 3 meters/second" I'm not sure how a $15 study guide can possible prepare you for a high school test in math, science or any other subject.

The world of online education is largely the wild west and this is another example of buyer beware. Unless you have attended (and remember) all your high school classes and simply forgot to take the actual tests I'd put the LA program in the total scam category.