By: Staff reports
A Whimsical Look At the Future Of Data Delivery
from this week’s Editor & Publisher magazine. To subscribe, click
by Howard Saltz
E-mail was fine for a while, but being tied to a stationary PC was so
limiting. Laptops and wireless Palm units provided freedom, but the
problem with such hand-held devices is simply that: You have to hold
them. What a chore.
Coming soon is microdisplay, a technology that can provide PC-quality
images from a device so small it could fit in a pair of eyeglasses,
allowing us to roam, hands-free, while still being plugged into the
world of news and information.
Of course, the battery charge eventually expires. And eyeglasses bulky
enough to incorporate a device weighing even a few ounces come with a
fairly high dork factor.
Besides, microdisplay devices won’t solve the time problem: As with
stationary PCs, Palms, Web-ready cell phones, and anything else that
relies on electronic transmission of data, we are forced to wait and
wait and wait for the news we urgently need. The seconds just drag on.
The solution: Forget about e-mail. The future is t-mail.
That’s right, telepathic mail. All the news and information you want,
delivered directly to your brain. We’ll simply call it t-mail, because
who has time to waste on all those extra syllables?
It’s an age when nanoseconds count. When we’re too lazy to go to the
front doorstep, retrieve the newspaper, and – ugh – turn the pages to
get the news. We certainly don’t have the time to wait for e-mailed
stock quotes, baseball scores, and traffic updates.
That’s where t-mail comes in. You want to know the latest price of a
Microsoft share? You already do.
Sure, it sounds far-fetched. And yet, you have to wonder whether some
companies aren’t already working on it. (It’s too tempting not to.)
o The government restricts cigarette advertising? T-mail the ads.
o Software blocks ‘spam’ advertising? T-mail around it.
o Don’t want the wife to know you’ve been cruising porn sites on that
new PC you insisted on getting so you could pay bills and stay informed?
Get all the smut you want, without a trace.
Arguably, Madison Avenue has been t-mailing for years. Subliminal
advertising is a t-mail system, although a primitive one. Solve the
technological problems, get the message delivered directly into the
consumer’s cranium, and you have a more efficient version.
The advantages are terrific: Marketing people would no longer have to
waste all that time and money filming commercials and buying air time
to merely plant suggestions. Instead, we consumers will know, without
any doubt, that using certain brands of toothpaste will result in
sexual encounters with attractive strangers.
There are t-commerce applications, too. What’s the point of knowing
Microsoft’s share price at the very instant it changes if you can’t
buy it? Do a t-trade; day trading will become as antiquated as
Make a t-bid at an online auction and you won’t have to watch as
some guy who’s faster on the keyboard snares overpriced junk from the
Concerned the lowest air fare is, in fact, lower than the lowest air
fare quoted on a lowest-air-fare Web site five seconds ago? With t-mail,
it won’t be as low as the one you just found out about.
While the idea of telepathic communication has generally been the stuff
of fiction – OK, and perhaps the research-and-development guys at some
tech companies you should probably invest in – there is at least a basis
Sound waves, created when molecules collide with one another, disappear
shortly thereafter. This is good news to anyone who has listened to the
radio lately. By contrast, light waves continue to propagate, which is
why scientists can see events in distant galaxies centuries after they
And, according to David Nesbitt, a professor of chemistry and
biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder, brain waves share
some characteristics with light waves. Information is transmitted through
the body via a flow of electrically charged material. In principle, these fluctuating electrical fields generate some equivalent of light.
As such, these waves – thoughts – could continue to wave on, although
very weakly, as they move from the body. Forever.
The good news: The thoughts of Thomas Jefferson might still be out there.
The bad news: Your thoughts about your boss might still be out there,
To make t-mail work, all we have to do is capture these quickly spreading
waves of thought and amplify them. The tricky part would be directing them
to the correct recipient. But even if we can’t figure that out, it
wouldn’t be any worse than e-mail spam.
Anyone who signed up for those cheap long-distance rates and is still
plagued by wrong numbers and telemarketers could appreciate even a flawed
t-mail system. Your brain might be bombarded with nonsense, but at least
the call would be free.
Howard Saltz is the electronic media editor of The Denver Post.
(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher