It’s called “The Internet of Things” — at least for now. It refers to an imminent world where physical objects and beings, as well as virtual data and environments, all live and interact with each other in the same space and time. In short, everything is interconnected.
“If we can imagine it, there’s a good chance it can be programmed,” wrote Vint Cerf, the original Internet evangelist, on the official Google blog.
“The Internet of the future will be suffused with software, information, data archives, and populated with devices, appliances, and people who are interacting with and through this rich fabric.”
At the nodes of this all-encompassing web of objects is RFID (Radio Frequency Identity) technology, which allows things to be “read” by an NFC (Near Field Communication) scanner, bar-code-style, as well as to store information about themselves and their relationship with their environment, over time.
The reason why RFID is often called next-generation bar code is that the technology is more accurate, scanners can read more objects with less directional contact, and smaller chips can contain a larger quantity of information.
Bruce Sterling, one of the pioneers of cyberpunk literature in the 1980s and an active sci-fi guru, neologized the term “spime” in 2004 to refer to any object that can define itself in terms of both space and time, i.e. using GPS to locate itself and RFID to trace its own history.