Here's a selection from item that someone passed along to me from eWeek:
"The tech story of the year so far that will be even bigger next year?...
"My vote is the edict by Wal-Mart requiring its top suppliers to put RFID tags on pallets and cases of their products by January 2005. The tagging requirement by Wal-Mart is only the latest in a string of announcements and innovations that is moving the important, but lackluster to some, topic of inventory control and management toward the top of the technology agenda. ...
"'The Wal-Mart announcement is the first time I can remember a business decision of this magnitude being made in anticipation of technology innovation and commercialization. The unanticipated consequences—for vendors, consumers, competitors and regulators—will be fascinating to watch: We don't yet have tools, laws, productive capacity, standards or social norms to accommodate this technology and its potential implications,' said John Jordan, principal in the Office of the CTO, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, in an e-mail exchange in which he assessed the importance of the Wal-Mart announcement.
"'The ripple effect this technology can have is amazing. Think of the leveraging power that the Internet, e-mail and IP communications provided in connecting people to people and computers. RFID is the next link of connecting "things"—and not just information about these things but also their processes, places and contact points. All of this information has been hidden in the supply chain,' said Fran Rabuck, president of Rabuck Associates and a member of the eWEEK Corporate Partner Advisory Board.
-- From Eric Lundquist, "Wal-Mart gets it right", eWeek. http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,1191646,00.asp
Howard Rheingold talks about similar concepts in his 2003 book, Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution:
"When you piece together these different technological, economic, and social components, the result is an infrastruture that makes certain kinds of human actions possible that were never possible before. The 'killer apps' of tomorrow's mobile infocom industry won't be hardware devices or software programs but social practices. The most far-reaching changes will come, as they often do, from the kinds of relationships, enterprises, communities, and markets that the infrastructure makes possible."