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AboutWishing Well (for Personalized Communication)
Bill Gates recently commented in an interview with Jon Udell yesterday,
"And there's a lot more issues to be solved than RSS… Ultimately the whole problem of notification, of what is it should I be paying attention to next? Is it the e-mail that came in? The phone call? The bid we're supposed to make? That's actually a very deep user interface problem, you know, having all these things understand your context and their priority and who's saying that they think something is urgent. And then you just go to your computer screen and it's ranked for you. You know -- first pay attention to this, then pay attention to this."
Greg Linden, the Founder/CEO of Findory comments further:
"We need personalized information streams where our attention is directed toward the most interesting and important."
I couldn’t agree more with Greg’s assessment of information overload. Determining the relative ranking of pieces in the Incremental Web which I should read is becoming increasingly difficult, if not near-impossible. Should I read this post, scan through that delicious tag feed, or view this photo-stream? Findory’s service does a great job of personalizing news content like this, but it’s only a first step.
I believe that Gates is referring to something even more powerful, "a very deep user interface problem," as he calls it. Is it possible for technology to eventually not only to determine a relative ranking among a specific set of information, but also determine an absolute ranking among many sets of information? Ideally, I want to not only know the most important news that I should read, but also have my computer (read: personal device ) vpn android app determine if, how, and when I should read an article, accept a Skype call, or listen to a voicemail – all depending on the meta-data known about that particular communication. A tall order, I know, but something I wish for in a chaos of information available today. Personalization technology, tagging, and social network/connection data are helping us get there, but it’s going to take some time.
The Meaning of *How* You Communicate
There are a myriad ways that people can contact and send me messages these days. My work e-mail address, my blog e-mail address, one of my many personal e-mail addresses, my mobile phone, SMS on my mobile, my work phone, my home phone, snailmail on at my physical work address or my physical home address, via LinkedIn, FAX, etc., etc. What I think is interesting is that not only does the content of a message carry meaning, but the forum that it’s communicated to me does as well. Whether you send a message via SMS or via snailmail conveys something about its urgency, its importance, its intimacy, and its desire for response. (A quick aside: Want to really get someone’s attention who you don’t know? Send them a FedEx and follow up with a phone call immediately.)
Moreover, the message senders’ communication tool also sends a signal. Is an e-mail coming from your gmail account or a work account? Are you calling someone from your mobile while grocery shopping or sitting at your desk with your landline? It seems to me that a Caller ID number (or if it’s blocked) says something not just about who’s calling, but why they are calling.