These topics are extremely worthy of discussion because I fear there is an inevitable march towards the dystopian visions we have had as long as we’ve created Science Fiction. The Internet of Things (IoT) will grow at an accelerating pace that we cannot understand and it will covertly saturate our lives without us fully realizing the unintended consequences of these changes. We will adapt and acquiesce to this world in marginal steps that seem relatively harmless to us (look at what has happened with privacy in the Facebook era) and in fact we may accept this as the inevitable advancement and trade-offs of our technological society. IoT will bring more of everything to us but at a cost that we will not fully realize in terms of privacy, surveillance, and most importantly self-determination. We will be so reliant on IoT and machines that there will be no turning back.
If you can’t beat them (robots), join them. The “quantified self” will evolve to the “optimized self,” meaning humans will be supported by extreme wearable and embedded sensoring enabling real-time, on-demand guidance from a commercial “cloud coach” (Google?) for every step, move, and decision they make whether it’s at work or on the playing field; i.e., becoming more machine-like. The dark side is that humans’ born-with intelligence and cognitive skills and capacities will atrophy just like a broken leg in a cast.
My neighbor is a professor in computer science and he is developing a new Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) and I’m going to meet with him to find out what kind of ePUBS and/or POD documents he wants to offer students. The crazy thing about these Coursera courses is they get sometimes over 30,000 students worldwide that register for just one course. Take a look at the universities and other organizations that are jumping on this bandwagon: https://www.coursera.org/about/partners
Here’s a link to a course in “cloud computing concepts”: https://www.coursera.org/course/cloudcomputing. The course is free but you can earn a “Verified Certificate” which is part of a series of courses in cloud computing. It says that no textbook is required.
I think some of these instructors wouldn’t mind giving the global student the option of downloading some ePUBS and/or Print-on-Demand (POD) class notes and/or textbook. Many students still like to have a hard copy of something which they can carry around and annotate and doodle on.
The exciting thing about this is that each course can attract anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 students or more to register from across the world, and this is only going to grow as more and more hiring corporations value “skills verification” which can very cost-effectively be obtained via these MOOCs. The number of registered students is driven by the brand name of the professor and the demand for the particular topic. Clearly any topic that adds to a student’s “verified skills,” builds credits toward a degree, and ultimately leads to a good-paying job will be in high demand. Since the student is already able to take the course for free, the marginal cost to pay a modest amount for some E and/or POD publications is something many students would opt in for (i.e., pay for). So you have this massive captive market of students for each course, and right now it looks like there’s really no cloud-based platform for them to get course-related materials.
The “Verified Certificate” is one way they (Coursera and partner institutions) monetize the course. The cloud computing concept certificate is $49. Downloaded E and/or POD course materials would be a second way of monetizing.
Another interesting development is the “Amazon Campus” just announced: http://www.amazon.com/gp/campus/info.