January 11, 2012


(Image) The approach Google is taking with Google+ is genius. And it’s exactly the reason Google circles are a MAJOR evolution (I still don’t understand how some folks don’t see that) in what the Internet is becoming. I’ll assume Battelle is correct with a point he recently blogged (because I believe he is):
What’s clear is this: All the companies involved in this great data spat are acting in what they believe to be their own self interest, and the greatest potential loser, at least in the short term, is the search consumer, who will not be seeing “all the world’s information” but rather “that information which is readily available to Google on terms Google prefers.”
The key to that last sentence is the phrase “what they believe to be their own self interest.” Because I think there’s an argument that, in fact, their true self interest is to open up and share with each other.
Let’s pretend the data from all parties involved (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) was shared, right now. What would we have? The most amazing social network to ever exist. Why?
That’s essentially what exists now - but it’s fragmented to the nth degree. Here’s another point, from the same post (by Battelle).
Thanks to Google’s inclusion of Google+ in its search index, that light has now been shone, and what we’re seeing isn’t all good. I’m of the opinion that a few years from now, each and every one of us will have the expectation and the right to incorporate our own social data into web-wide queries. If the key parties involved in search and social today don’t figure out a way to make that happen, well, they may end up just like The Industry Standard did back in 2001.
But not to worry, someone else will come along, pick up the pieces, and figure out how to play a more cooperative and federated game.
Not only is the assumption that he makes correct (IMHO), it should serve as a “kick to the face, wake up call,” to all of the companies it’s aimed at. We’re never going to get to point we want to be at without cooperation - data cooperation. For some background on Big Data, this link may help
IF all of the data we produce (or a significant amount of data, at the very least) is shared within the framework of the Internet - not just the framework of the World Wide Web - we could actually get some shit done (I would assume that was the point for creating the Internet; to make the world a better place, which it has undoubtedly already done…). The Internet and World Wide Web wouldn’t work properly if they was broken (much like that sentence doesn’t work because it's grammatically broken). Why would social or search (well, what search is becoming, not your grandfather’s search) be any different? SOPA is a perfect example of how “censorship” breaks the web. Rather than censorship, what we’re dealing with now is non-cooperation from the involved parties. The same parties that would have a shit storm if SOPA became law are, essentially, doing the exact same thing with data that SOPA would do to the web - breaking it.
To get to a point that’s communicated within the title of this post (“For a Predictable Future”) I’ll use an example: For this example, I’ll use the average eight year old - five years from now - that’s just starting off using social media. Presumably, I (average eight year old) have no idea how to use social networks. (Also, presumably, the major players in this social game are sharing data.)
Rather than promoted tweets, or suggestions for whom to follow (I’m obviously referring to Twitter here), you will automatically follow individuals or brands. While at the same time, you will automatically unfollow people or companies. (This is also the point where Google circles come into play, significantly - we would have a pretty humongous mess without circles.) Your friends are auto programmed into circles, based on how often you interact with them, to what regard you interact with them, in real life, and online. Now, based on location: the data collected from where you go (school, Toy’s R Us, vacation - a signal for your parents income) can be used as a predictor for what you’re going to buy, where you’re going to buy “it”, and where you will vacation, in the future. Based on all of this real-life data, your circles will auto generate who’s in them. And they will constantly make adjustments. Don’t talk to that person much anymore? They’re dissolved to a lower tiered circle.
Fast-forward a few years. Now, you’re looking for a college to go to. Wait, no you’re not. Because there are three schools that have already sent you letters, begging you to attend there. Those schools are the only ones that can send you letters (or emails, bear with me) because any other school sending you letters would be considered spam. And there’d be legal ramifications for sending you spam. The question is, “Why those three schools?” Because they’re the perfect match for you, everything about you; intelligence level (based on what you read online, test scores, etc.), income level (can you afford it? - will you be able to pay back the loans? - the school already has a pretty good idea if you’ll be able to, and how long it’ll take you), your preference for distance from home (need to bounce outta town? home buggy?), etc. 
That’s where shared data could bring us, to start. And we can always change our minds. You know what? I don’t like those three schools. Send me three more choices that differentiate the collective intelligence of the current student body a little better. 
I imagine, at that point, we won’t have to concern ourselves with such trivial matters, as often as we do now. Matters like, “Should we really share data? I don’t know, what if Twitter leveraged it better than us? Then we’d have to come up with something new." 

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