In a perfect example, of why I love blogs, Dave Flecher was pointing to this article from Technology Review about 10 Technologies that will Change the World. Look at the first one and then read my article from earlier this week on sensor grids. Imagine having real time data from large cooperative grids of sensors like these. I think places like DARPA and NSF ought to require web access to data in machine readable form (aka web services) for any research they fund.
These kinds of sensor nets bring to mind David Brin's thought provoking book, The Transparent Society. Brin argues that we won't get a choice between whether data is collected or not collected. We'll only get a choice about who has access. Think about sensor nets made of devices like those in the TR article in 10 years, when you can buy each sensor for 25 cents and could afford to blanket an area with them---any area. Cheap, disposable, and easily concealed, they would turn almost anyplace, on a whim, into a completely monitored fishtank.