the last nanometer


In the telco industry (for those not old enough to remember – that refers to telephone, as in copper wires strung between locations), the saying was that the “last mile” was the toughest. What that means is that laying trunk infrastructure (i.e. the main pipes), while challenging, is a fairly understandable and consistent problem. But get a wire to the individual home – i.e. that last mile – brings orders of magnitude more variables to the table.


We are in an analogous position now with the interwebs, the increasing internet-of-things, and generally digital pervasiveness. The infrastructure is fairly mature at this point, and adding more services is fairly straightforward. But that last bit of distance – what I call “the last nanometer” of any display or interaction device to the human – remains a huge challenge. Just as running a wire drop to a house depended on the property geography, variables such as trees, house size, government regulations (GO95 for those who used to run wires), right-of-way, etc…the same now happens with the human user. Each person has certain similar characteristics, but in the end they are unique, and as such bridging that “last nanometer” is a challenge. Will AI fix this? Or will we conform our expectations (as we’ve done with other media)? Time will tell…

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