The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems
by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser

I began a new course last week at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University. Although it is not towards my degree program in Public Relations, upon seeing it advertised I instantly thought I would be very interested in it. This course is callled Digital Skills and Innovation for the Global Economy. The link that follows is the information that gained my attention.

The course textbook is called Interop, written by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser they are “both law professors and researchers, interested in the way the ongoing explosion of information technologies affect societies around the world.” (Pg. 4) Interop stands for “interoperability” which is the exchange of information between the four layers being technology, data, human and institutional. “The main purpose of the theory of interoperability is to help define the optimal level of interconnectedness and to lay out a path for achieving it.” (Pg 3) I walked into my local Chapters and purchased the last text book on the shelf the weekend before the course started, it was confirmed in my mind that this is the course for me at this time. This is the text I am reading through-out the next twelve weeks. This blog will serve as my platform share what I am learning from week to week until the end of this course on April 13th. After that, we shall see where this leads.

I found that the Introduction and first chapter of Interop helped me understand the digital age in which we live and heighten my awareness of the potential benefits and pitfalls to social media. I was first struck by the layers of interoperability (page 6) and particularly the human and institutional layers which helped me understand that my difficulty in understanding their potential was the extent that they were the most abstract. If indeed greater connectivity and interoperability can help humans and institutions more collaborative (page 7) while maintaining unique characters the sky seems to be the limit. This is best summarized on page 11 where Palfrey and Gasser say “One of the primary benefits of interoperability is that it can preserve key elements of diversity while ensuring that systems work together in the ways that matter most.” The following YouTube Video helps to support my point:

The major thing that struck me in the chapter on the Technology and Data Layers was the extent that humans increasingly expect that the various systems and platforms in which they work and play and socialize are easily transferable; the challenge in an age where technology is advancing so quickly.
I like this YouTube video in that it is AODA compliant and recaps the major developments in technology within the last 10 years.

The concept of geolocation (page 29 in Interop) also resonated with me to the extent that producers and services that we have an interest in can keep track of us and provide us with benefits such as giving us coupons and by allowing us to read the menu as we walk by the restaurant but also can at the same time invade our privacy. It was at this point that I connected the text with the YouTube video that identified the extent that peoples likes on social media can be translated into advertising that makes them $millions$ and users marketing fodder.

Will the pictures we take today on one platform be available to us when we want to show these pictures to our grandchildren even 10 years from now?


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