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May 1, 2015

Dumb Pipes

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

I freely confess glee any time I encounter a new high tech term. This week’s term is dumb pipe.

A dumb pipe isn’t a person, it’s a technology. When you use a dumb pipe, the Internet is just sending you something. Burp. There it is.

The term sounds insulting, but it turns out people love the Internet for its dumb pipes. The pipes bring information to you and they don’t mess with it. The information is dumped into your lap and you can do with it what you please.

The high tech industry loathes dumb pipes. That’s because there’s nothing in it for them. You see, when you interact with a big tech company — Apple, Google, Microsoft — they want something in return for their free online stuff. That something is, of course, you.

As I’ve written before, when you get something without paying for it, it’s you that’s being sold. You use Google search free but all the while Google is gathering information about you. Or, to paraphrase Eric Schmidt, Google’s Chairman, they know who you are, what you like, and most likely what you’re going to search for next.

All the information is gold to Google because they can sell a targeted customer base to advertisers. The key to making that system work is smart pipes, or information that’s not only sent out but received as well.

So while you like dumb pipes, the industry prefers smart pipes. It has no use for those dumb pipes, and one of the dumbest pipes out there is email.

Email is simple. It’s sent and received. As billions of spammers know, email isn’t verified. You can send it out la-di-da and not give a rip. And people love getting email. It’s monstrously convenient, but not for the lovers of smart pipes.

I had no idea about all then when I wrote recently about the coming irrelevancy of email. I figured email would work itself into obsolescence on its own. I didn’t guess that our tech industry giants would actually pine for its demise.

Something will replace email, of course. It’s going to be more interactive because, naturally, it must use smart pipes. I’m not sure how that’s going to work out, but I’m positive the Big Boys are presently devising some “solution” for the “problem” of email. I’m certain because they’ve already tried and failed to do so.

Consider Google’s Reader program or Google+. I believe these were efforts to steer you from email and into a more controlled communications environment. Google will doubtless try again. It may be a subtle move. It may be overt. Either way, keep an eye out for the “smart” inbox. It’s not what you think it is.

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