While lots of people are discussing Google's latest effort to scan the books of various libraries and add them to their massively underhyped Google Print offering, the one thing that seems most interesting about the whole thing is that it's yet another step towards the blurring of boundaries between the analog and digital worlds. It used to be that you had the online "virtual" digital world, and everything offline was separate from that. However, that's changing with efforts like this announcement from Google (and Amazon's earlier search inside the book effort). On top of that, add the growing recognition of how tools like camera phones can be used to "click" on any real world object just like a hyperlink, and some very interesting possibilities start to become clear. This goes well beyond just scanning in some pages in a book, or getting some product info on something you're buying, but adding the ability to start really connecting physical objects to a tremendous amount of digital information, and build up the same sort of links previously found only online. As it's the end of the year, and we're all going to start seeing a bunch of silly predictions for next year, it seems that this merging of the digital and analog worlds may be one trend that is going to be underestimated or ignored by many -- but will become increasingly important over the next few years.
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