You’ve probably been there: the plenary speaker arrives straight from the airport, rocks up to the podium and whips out a Mac laptop that the techie supporting the event assumed would be a PC. There is much muttering and scrabbling for a video adaptor – for the keynote speech has been written in, well, Keynote and won’t translate adequately into PowerPoint.
This all-too-familiar premise forms the opening to Interop, a timely discussion of how systems interconnect – or fail to – in our technology-dependent society. Thankfully, much interoperability – the “interop” of the title – has developed around us to the extent that astonishing technical feats seem almost commonplace, and our growing dependence on the once-humble mobile phone provides a good example. The first time you get off a transatlantic flight and switch on your phone, it’s hard not to feel a sense of magic as it swiftly scans for a signal and connects you to the local partner network. Such seamless integration so quickly becomes the assumed norm that, on subsequent occasions, you may begin to resent the 10 or 15 seconds that your phone needs to get that first connection.
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