THE BLOG

David Bowie Demonstrates Our Upgrade to "New Human"

20/01/2016 10:55 GMT | Updated 19/01/2017 10:12 GMT

In turning his death into an art piece Bowie was able to say a lot within the confines of creativity.

Amongst the many messages he sent, one clearly chimes with the aspirations of Zuckerberg, Page & Brin et al.

In Lazarus he sings: "Everybody knows me now".

Google's Project Loon (I fancy Bowie might have liked that moniker) and Facebook's Internet Satellite programme aim to bring Internet access to the remaining majority of the world who do not have it.

"We're going to keep working to connect the entire world - even if that means looking beyond our planet," Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

One day, soon, one of the big platforms will be able to speak to the entire world at the same time. You feel it's a big boys' race. Who will say "Hello World" first?

Bowie's death was announced on his social media accounts and his son confirmed it on Twitter.

With phenomenal speed it seemed like everyone did indeed know of him, and his death. Twitter exploded with some 4.3 million Tweets about his death in the first seven hours after the event.

Exactly how many knew by the end of the initial 24 hour news blitz is difficult to say. Certainly everyone with Internet access knew.

By the end of 2015 there were approximately 3.4 billion Internet users, representing some 46% of the world's population.

I think you could safely round that figure up to a neat 50% if you add those who don't have Internet access, but know someone who does.

So in an instant over 3.5 billion people knew Bowie had died. That leaves, possibly, just over 3.5 billion people who didn't hear the news and don't know he's dead. Possibly.

Anything in billions is a small figure in the scheme of modern connectivity. Billions were way too small, for example, to measure the number of music streams tracked by Next Big Sound in the first half of 2015. The music analytics company says it tracked a gigantic 1.03 trillion music streams from a host of popular streaming services. Bowie's domination of the current charts ensures he will be playing a part in keeping those figures well into the trillions.

It is estimated that 6.4 billion connected "Things" will be in use in this year, (up

30% from 2015). Assigning just one paltry transaction per day between these devices we are looking at an annualised minimum of 2.3 trillion moments of connectivity. Some of these trillions will be brand new moments of connectivity to add to the 11 trillion messages sent and received on WhatsApp last year.

Bowie stage-managed both his life and his death. His demise was part art, part music, part wake, part stunt. Wonderfully wonderful and cruelly wonderful at the same time.

And in doing so he played into the exponential possibilities of cyberspace. At his final moment he upgraded himself and revealed to many billions the awesome abilities we now we have. His sad but masterful gift will have generated trillions of bits of inter-connected, re-tweeted, re-hashed comment.

Human-to-human contact, connection and correspondence are clearly more about data-to-data flow as they are voice-to-voice chat, flesh-to-flesh handshake, or eye-to-eye contact.

In fact, our data is erupting from our devices and being propelled forward, analysed, attended to and responded to so fast, efficiently and effectively that we are actually communicating even when we think we are not. In fact, we communicate widely when we are alone, asleep or even dead.

Our digital afterlife is raising many issues, not least, of course, ethical. Having access to a loved-one's digital life or having to deal with continued responses to someone who has passed away recognizes the fact that our data is immortal, even when we are not.

In this Modern Life, we are upgraded Humans. Uploading our final moments as we unplug from life is within the reach of all of us. Staying alive for ever amongst the billions of people and trillions of chats in cyberspace is a reality that Bowie hints at; after all, Lazarus is resurrected.

And it's a shape-shifting reality we will need to start getting used to.

Fast.