Colin is a 20-year-old computer science student living in London with two other students in the year 2020. He enjoys backpacking, sports, music, and gaming. He has a primary digital device (PDD) that keeps him connected 24 hours a day — at home, in transit, at school. He uses it to download and record music, video, and other content, and to keep in touch with his family, friends, and an ever-widening circle of acquaintances. His apartment is equipped with the latest wireless home technology, giving him superfast download speeds of up to 100 Mbps.
Colin’s parents are divorced and live in different cities, and he has one sister, who lives abroad. He is close to his family, but his physical contact with them is minimal. Instead, he prefers to stay in touch, virtually, through his PDD, which allows him to communicate through multiple channels via voice, text, video, data — either separately or all at once. His parents would prefer that he visit more often, of course, but they are finally beginning to get used to being a part of his digital life. Still, sometimes Colin feels he is too digitally connected. A recent surprise visit to his mother was ruined because she knew he was in town — he had forgotten to disable the location feature on his PDD. Colin’s social life is also arranged via his PDD. He always knows the location of his friends — even what they are doing — and can communicate with them instantly.
Much of Colin’s experience at school is mediated by his PDD. He can attend lectures, browse reading material, do research, compare notes with classmates, and take exams — all from the comfort of his apartment. When he goes to campus, his PDD automatically connects to the school’s network and downloads relevant content, notices, and bills for fees, for which he can authorise payment later, at his leisure. Although he prefers to shop online, when he visits a retail store, his PDD automatically connects to the store’s network, guiding him through product choices, offering peer reviews, and automatically checking out and paying for items he purchases.
Colin’s real passion is travelling, preferably with a backpack. On his recent trip to Australia, his PDD kept him occupied throughout the long plane ride with music, video, and Internet access, and helped him through customs by automatically connecting to the Australian government’s network. Then he used it to pinpoint the location of the Australian friends he was planning to travel with (he had met them online through one of several social networks he uses). Once they met up, they used their PDDs to plan their route, a relatively easy task, given that with all of Australia (and most of the civilized world) mapped and modelled on the Web in 3-D, they could see every twist and turn on their path.
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