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Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy [Kindle Edition]

Robert Scoble , Shel Israel
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 248 pages
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Whispersync for Voice: Ready
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Book Description

In 2006, co-authors Robert Scoble and Shel Israel wrote Naked Conversations, a book that persuaded businesses to embrace what we now call social media. Six years later they have teamed up again to report that social media is but one of five converging forces that promise to change virtually every aspect of our lives. You know these other forces already: mobile, data, sensors and location-based technology. Combined with social media they form a new generation of personalized technology that knows us better than our closest friends. Armed with that knowledge our personal devices can anticipate what we’ll need next and serve us better than a butler or an executive assistant. The resulting convergent superforce is so powerful that it is ushering in a era the authors call the Age of Context. In this new era, our devices know when to wake us up early because it snowed last night; they contact the people we are supposed to meet with to warn them we’re running late. They even find content worth watching on television. They also promise to cure cancer and make it harder for terrorists to do their damage. Astoundingly, in the coming age you may only receive ads you want to see. Scoble and Israel have spent more than a year researching this book. They report what they have learned from interviewing more than a hundred pioneers of the new technology and by examining hundreds of contextual products. What does it all mean? How will it change society in the future? The authors are unabashed tech enthusiasts, but as they write, an elephant sits in the living room of our book and it is called privacy. We are entering a time when our technology serves us best because it watches us; collecting data on what we do, who we speak with, what we look at. There is no doubt about it: Big Data is watching you. The time to lament the loss of privacy is over. The authors argue that the time is right to demand options that enable people to reclaim some portions of that privacy.

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Product Description

About the Author

Shel Israel and Robert Scoble have been friends for several years. They have appeared in the media and on conference stages many times. Both have a passion for how technology will change the world Robert Scoble is among the world's best-known tech journalists. In his day job as Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for the latest developments on technology's bleeding edge. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports for Rackspace TV and in social media. He can be found at You can email him at, and on social networks as Robert Scoble. Shel Israel helps businesses tell their stories in engaging ways as a writer, consultant and presentation coach. He writes The Social Beat column for Forbes and has contributed editorially to BusinessWeek, Dow Jones, Fast Company and American Express Open Forum. He has been a keynote speaker more than 50 times on five continents. You can follow him at and talk to him at or at most social networks as shelisrael.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4475 KB
  • Print Length: 248 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Patrick Brewster Press; 1 edition (28 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,651 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book as a rapid survey of the contextual technology landscape, and particularly welcomed the examples - although the approach make the book seem more like an extended post or magazine article. Where it fell down is in assessing the problems - privacy, data ownership, security etc etc. The NSA revelations, which were just breaking when the book was written, and which continue to unfold may come to make this shortcoming weigh much more heavily than it might otherwise. Worth reading, though....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor futurology and long winded product placement 24 Nov. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book just fails to deliver. If you know anything about this area, you'll get nothing from this book. If you know nothing but are interested, you'll get an unrealistic view of where tech is going. The general direction and points that are made are generally where the tech world is going. However there are 2 big problems with this book. First, it's like reading a massive advert for a couple of products/services/companies (Google Glass being one). Second, the way technology is discussed is so out of touch with what it takes to actually invent and deliver such technology you don't get a realistic view of where the tech world is heading. As a professional working in this area I'm greatly disappointed by this by journalists who I considered to be knowledgeable. If you're interested in this area, you're far better off spending your time reading articles on the net than bothering with this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves 8 May 2014
By Smith
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There are deeper books on this subject out there but that doesn't mean that, even at it's current price (2GBP), you should dismiss it. Scoble and Isreal delve into the expectations, benefits and downsides of contextual data collection and analysis, predominately via mobile platforms.

The first half of the book addresses future concepts, innovation and practical applications of the world viewed and harvested by large, and small, companies -- to best serve our needs, wants and whims. It's going to be a great world...maybe! There's plenty of examples given; although none which will surprise most savvy readers. And it's all written in a straight-forward, appeal to all language. I didn't find this half of the book that surprising, nor did I find it particularly deep in information. It served a purpose, but I do have an interest in this area, generally speaking, so that might account for my impression of it.

The back end of the book; especially the health, and data privacy chapters were quite a bit more interesting. The writers highlight the flip-side of the 'wonderfully contextual' world with the stark realisation that insurance companies might just not want you to be in tip-top health all the time. And who owns the data anyway? It's highlighted as a worry and rightly so. This is serious when it comes down to it all.

All-in-all a coffee table book that doesn't particularly tax the reader, but there are some thinking points to be had. I'm not sure I'd have paid full price for it, given that you only have to watch Scoble on any podcast or interview to hear pretty much the full contents of the book given by him.

If you're really interested in the future (once you've finished AoC) that they are talking about, a great (fictional) read is Sycamore (Near-Future Dystopia) [Kindle Edition] Craig A. Falconer. The amount of overlap between the two books is very, very apparent. Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone with a smartphone. 16 Sept. 2013
This book is a must read for anyone with a smartphone, and anyone interested in the role of technology in society - which is basically everybody!

Science fiction author William Gibson once wrote that `the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed'. What Scoble and Israel have done for this book is travel to the places where the future has arrived, and returned with a picture to show the rest of us how our lives will increasingly be shaped by ever present, and increasingly intelligent every day technology.

It is a place where technology has the power to make our lives better, with a rich contextual connection to the people and the world around us. However, as they point out, this future may have a price in the form of diminished privacy, and that as a society we are yet to form the rules, laws and behavioural norms that balance these benefits and costs.

Some of those rules and laws are already being debated and prepared, so above all this is a very timely book, which adds to the debate about getting the balance right. Scoble and Israel rightly highlight the issues of transparency, permission and control as central to this debate. They don't claim to have any answers, but this book is nevertheless a valuable contribution to the discussions about how we can make sure that the future of technology is one that benefits us all.
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Format:Kindle Edition
If you're someone who like to keep current in bleeding edge and future tech like I am, Robert and Shel have distilled all the research and interviews of the people who really shape our tech future and created an easy to read book. It does not delve deep into specific subjects, (a lot of the tech behind these innovations would require a lot of understanding!) but it is an eye opener to see how the tech we will use in the future will become more aware and be of more value to us. A great read, I'd wholeheartedly recommend it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The future will be contextualized 24 Sept. 2013
Would you wear Google Glass? Will you buy a smartwatch? Do you own a Nike FuelBand, Jawbone or Fitbit? Then this book is made for you. For everyone else on the planet, we'll be shaped by the concepts in this book, whether we're aware of it or not. Chances are, if you're reading this, you want to be a participant in a digital contextual future, not some outsider moaning about privacy and Big Brother and the good old days before big data, so dive in!

The context of The Age Of Context is that five emerging forces - mobile, social media, data, sensors and location - and about to create sociological change that this book documents. This decade will be defined by the technology, economics and social need and willing to use these five forces to change the world.

The other context for this book is that co-author Robert Scoble is one of the lucky few to be trailing Google Glass - expected to be one of the first to market wearable tech gadgets that change out relationship with technology. Glass is written about plenty here and much of the book's genesis comes from and is, ahem, seen thru the lens of Glass.

The move from mouse and keyboard to touchscreens in our pocket; from physical music, films and documents on drives to files in the cloud... these are small steps compared to what the age of context brings.

So what does the future look like? Doctors actually talking to patients while your notes and a differential diagnosis pops up on screen. Shops that know when I'm coming, know how important a customer I am, and gives me relevant offers. Self-driving cars (yep, we're all a little freaked out about this one, but think about the advantages for the blind and disabled, say the authors). More efficient policing (and traffic lights!) based on sensors and big data.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent a must read
An excellent book for those coming into the digital age and wondering where do I make my self relevant. Read it cover to cover!
Published 9 months ago by AJ
4.0 out of 5 stars Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy
Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy gives a clear underatdsning of what MAY be coming and some ideas on whats already here!
Published 13 months ago by terryglobal
5.0 out of 5 stars The best tech book I have read
I loved this book because it explains in very common language and with great study cases the present of digital technology, its advantages and also the issues involved,... Read more
Published 15 months ago by manu
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
I'm doing my dissertation on wearable technology so this was a great book to read to get their point of view on it
Published 16 months ago by Ms. R. O. Bowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
An excellent read, a good overview by Robert Scoble of all of the tech companies that he has been fortunate enough to spend his time visiting, together with his views of them.
Published 17 months ago by IanGSY
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
I regularly follow tech news etc so the book probably was targeted at myself - would recommend to those who don't classify themselves as a geek - it draws a nice image of where we... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Joshua Newnham
5.0 out of 5 stars Too Short
This is one of those books that helps define an era. With it's feet firmly planted in the here and now, it charts the seismic changes that we're undergoing as a global society,... Read more
Published 22 months ago by StJohn Deakins
5.0 out of 5 stars Can I have it today please?
I have one major problem with the services and technology described by Scoble. I want them today, not in two or three years time, provided they come out of beta or get funded by... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mark D
5.0 out of 5 stars must read for anyone interested in the futurecasting business
Loved this. In turns inspiring and terrifying, two insiders' views on Tomorrow's world. Highly recommended for anyone who has even a passing interest in technology and where it is... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Damien Lane
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading
I was slightly dubious when I bought the book as I was worried it could be a tech fan boy romp that bore no relation to life outside of Silicon Valley. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Matt
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