Thursday, 30 June 2011

“The term for what I did is opt-out.”

Back in May, I wrote Turn On, Tune In, Opt Out. I’m increasingly confident that it’s the next big trend in technology.

For the past 7 years, my bellwether for innovative, compelling, new technologies has been Dave Winer. Even before Google+ has been opened up to the general Google public – he’s taken a look and said, no thanks.

“I wish they didn’t use words like ‘downgrade’ and ‘deleted in the opt-out process. That’s so super-dramatic, self-important and one-sided. And makes me want to not try it again, even if you make some of the changes I’d like to see. I don’t see it as a downgrade, I see it as restoring sanity. And I didn’t delete anything because I never created anything in your stupid social network. Lighten up. The term for what I did is opt-out. That’s what you should call it.” – Dave Winer

DuckDuckGo is looking more attractive every day.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Turn On, Tune In, Opt Out

For a couple years now, I’ve felt Timothy Leary’s 60’s mantra ‘Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out‘ has gained new relevance.

The first two sections of the triplet seemed quite obvious. We can even re-use Leary’s explanation of them. The third section was more elusive. While Leary preferred to describe it as a commitment on self-reliance – ‘Drop Out’ – implies a complete disengagement.

It wasn’t until clicking through Jeremy Abbett‘s Driven to Distraction deck that I got it.

In this age of ever-more-granular control of our incoming & outgoing communications – wholly and complete disengagement is too primitive a solution. It’s much more beneficial to ruthlessly opt out.

Opt out is setting your Facebook privacy to minimize Facebook’s ability to sell you.
Opt out is the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email campaigns you receive.
Opt out is your spam filter.

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Wanted: More Publishers and Better Filters

David Newberger and I were talking about information filtering models and much of the thinking behind Feedseeder came though as did a couple much larger issues. The conversation was so good, I thought you’d enjoy it as well.

David: I was talking with a few people today and each one mentioned Information Overload in the seperate conversations. I knew that is was gaining more of a following but I didn’t think this many people were getting overwhelmed.

Garrick: I believe it. I think there are two tools that havent caught up w/ the information tidalwave yet; filtering and integration.

David: Yep. Sites like Digg and Memeorandum are not working it tells me also.

Garrick: Nope.

David: There is also the whole age factor in this as well.

Garrick: Seems to me there’s a fairly simple question we’re not getting a good answer to: ‘What should I be paying attention to right now’

David: Yep. I think if someone can effectivly answer that then they are going to be the next Google but the approach is something totally different then Google.

Garrick: It is. I believe it requires intimate knowledge of a persons social groups, and personal/professional goals.

David: I was thinking about a contract I heard about. The DoD is willing fork over $20M to figure out what the media is focused on at home and abroad……this seems like something that would be a jumping off point for the question you posed.

Garrick: Huh. I don’t think there is a focus. At least not in our house. Either TiVo or Netflx playing in the background while Jen and I are on our laptops.

David: Not in ours either but when aggregated over the global scope of media I think that there are some stories will have more attention then others. They would like to know the direction of the stories and such.

Garrick: Ah.

David: It seems to be an attempt at the wiretapping execpt this time they are looking at the public information and not the private information. Back to the question of “What should I be paying attention to right now?”. It seems to me that this is a deeply personal questions. It is a question that would require a lot of knowladge in anthropology, sociology, and tech field.

Garrick: Yes. for sure. and marketing needs to be left out of it.

David: Yep. I wonder if it is even possiable to write an algorithm that takes into account things like the social questions.

Garrick: Maybe not to answer the best thing, but it would be helpful to cut out 80% of the noise.

David: True. But the static that is out there is so large that you would have to figure out some of the values you can qunatify for some social issues.

Garrick: Oh sure.

David: I would even argue that cutting out 90-95% of the static would be needed for it to prove useful.

Garrick: Hmmm. Maybe I need to think about this differently. As J Wynia has said – we all know what spam looks like.

David: Think about it, there are what, 40-60 million blogs in the US or is it around the world. And at least 10-20 thousand newspapers in the US.

Garrick: Yes. 90-95% of them don’t talk about things relevant to me at any given time.

David: Plus, you have to take into account the podcasts and vlogs now.

Garrick: Same there.

David: The one that are relevant to me change as the issues change this is something that needs a lot of consideration.

Garrick: Exactly. The publication as a whole is far less important than any individual article.

David: Exactly.

Garrick: Google is our best tool for finding relevant articles. but, it searches the entire world.

David: And there is the splog problem with Google.

Garrick: Mostly likely, I don’t care what the entire world thinks.

David: But I think that narrowing it to the point of keeping it US Centric means it is not doing its job.

Garrick: Oh.

David: in the case of say a war my viewpoint might be one way because of how my government is spinning it and then you have the rest of the world.

Garrick: I didn’t me to restrict it to geographic boundaries. but rather communities-of-influence boundaries.

David: Oh, got it

Garrick: For example, I don’t care what gem transportation companies say about ‘ruby on rails’. I do care about what you say about it.

David: Good point. so now we need a reputation system that is based on a persons status in the subject matter.

Garrick: Oh. I dunno.

David: But we also must allow for bleed from the edges as well.

Garrick: I think we need a filtering system that can pick up patterns from people we declared we care about.

David: Could that skew the persons view to one direction and filter out opposing views? and would that be a good thing if that happened?

Garrick: Only if you’ve declared you don’t care about what the opposing view’s think. And your ‘friends’ have as well. And their ‘friends’ have as well.

David: now that seems like it would be fun to see, it allows for the bleed, reputation, and to a degree subject matter now to filter out the static that is left.

Garrick: So, in the most extreme cases, that’s how blogs work today.

David: I can agree with that.

Garrick: My ‘friends’ write about stuff that’s important/interesting to them. if I find it important/interesting, I write a post on it and link to them. You read it and continue.

David: But with only 40-60 million people blogging right now we have a problem of scale. There are 3.3 or so billion people and we are only getting the view of 40-60 million.

Garrick: Yep. Sounds like we’re doing a good job of cutting out the noise already.

David: True but what is causing it and how do we start to engage some of that untapped well.

Garrick: Find an angle that makes sense for an individual, and make it easy.

David: One could argue that we are only using something like 1% of the collective brain.

Garrick: Exactly. Once the other 99% gets online, we’ll have the same problem we have now….but 99x worse.

David: So, we need to put the dam and locks in place now. Can you imagine 100 or 150 million people blogging on a consistant basis? Think of the mental power that would be. Think of the different ways people think and see things.

Garrick: Exactly.

David: So, my goal would be get 100-200 million people blogging on a constant basis on there passions of interest sure some might like to talk about dogs, fish, girlfriends, and such but other will talk about philosophy, RoR, Computer Science and other areas.

Garrick: They’re all the same. that’s why we need to talk about all of them. Here’s an example – the Google results for include: “keith ellison”, “ical wordpress”, “linksys router setup mac”, “punch pizza in mn”, “house season premier fox”. I see that as a good thing.

David: Yeah it is diverse.

Garrick: Any 1 topic to me is flat. like a bad stereotype.

David: True.

Garrick: It’s combinations of topics and perspectives that make people and their views interesting. I read Doc Searls for everything he writes – though, I’m not into his photography. I read Mark Cuban for everything he writes, though, I’m not into basketball. Those topics round them out in my head – and make them real.

David: That is a good example.

Garrick: Arguably – I’m exposing myself to opposing ideas and concepts by letting Doc’s photography and Mark’s basketball through my filters.

Monday, 19 June 2006

RSS Puts Identification in the Hands of Your Customers

I’m listening to the Individualized-RSS podcast over at Marketing Edge podcast. The conversation is an attempt to bring the weakness of email into the strength of RSS (or verse-vica as the case maybe) – unique reader identification.

This is what I alluded to in this post from a couple months ago. There’s nothing in the technology of RSS that prevents people from identifying themselves – just by adding some identifier (another url for example) to the end of the URL string.

Any more registration isn’t necessary or even good (yes, this is a hack.)

Plus, it’s a much friendlier way to build a relationship with people. Registration (of any sort) requires people to make a commitment before they know the relationship will be useful and valuable. Not cool.

On the other hand, there are some specific situations where a locked down, personally-identifiable RSS feed actually adds value to the customer. I’m thinking of communications that needs audit-ability, a high-level of filtering, and guaranteed delivery. We’re not talking marketing communications here – we’re talking Very Serious Business and in that case, I recommend talking to Kris at Pale Groove about CastLock.

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

The Bottomless Feed and the Need for Now Context

“I’ve punted on trying to catch up on 19,000+ updated posts in Bloglines. I don’t have the time, or interest, in trying to sift through them all. I picked out a few blogs from a few categories that I’m absolutely interested in and skimmed through them and then marked all as read.” – Ed Costello

I do the same everyday – independent of vacations. There’s no reason to feel uncomfortable coming back from a 10-day vacation and not reading every page of the daily newspapers you missed or watching every minute of the evening news you missed, the same applies to blogs.

So, a couple of notions we all need to get good and comfortable with:

  1. There’s always more to do. I’m not big on stressing out how much work there is to do – work scales, time doesn’t. Work is persistent, time (despite what Dali says) isn’t.
  2. There’s always more to read. If every person you know, would like to know, are interested in, or is connected to you in the slightest way is publishing on any regular interval – there’s too much to keep up with. Especially if you’re also publishing and attempting to accomplish something during the day.

Welcome to the Post-Scarcity world.

We don’t yet have the tools that can actually, really help us. The aggregation and filtering tools we have are extremely simple. In my experience, they all filter the most basic, single-dimension attributes; publisher, date, or some notion of category/tag. Nothing more complex.

The problem we all have yet to solve is deceptively simple:
What should I pay attention to right now?

There’s a reasonable chance that this exact post at this exact time is what I should be writing. Some much much smaller chance says this is the exact time you should be reading this exact post. Yet, here we are.

The best tool we have to determine exactly what we should be paying attention to right now is….our guts, our insecurities, obsessions, fixations, interpersonal relationships, and Google.

The majority of the information we receive during any given day is FYI at best. No action required. Depending on your definition of spam – it can probably be immediately deleted. There’s always one Best Next Action out there – finding it will only become more of a challenge.

Saturday, 13 May 2006

Monday, 8 May 2006

Saturday, 25 March 2006

First Crack 76. Paying Attention with J Wynia

Back from SXSW 2006, J Wynia and I grabbed a morning tea and talked about:

Listen to Paying Attention with J Wynia [33 min]

Thursday, 9 February 2006

Postel’s Law Asks, What Are You Ignoring Today?

There are quite a few memes circling this week I’m actively ignoring. Things where this sentence is exactly the amount of energy I’m giving them. If you also follow Doc Searls, these are snowballs I don’t think deserve pushing.

This is where the attention metadata stuff gets mushy. I’m talking about the triangles in the corners of the Attention Pyramid, the delta between attention & importance, between impression and click-through, between reading and writing, between Postel’s Law. The things I deem important should be associated with my identity, not the super-set of things I’ve given some acknowledging amount of attention to.

Question is, which is more valuable to snowball pushers; people ignoring them or people in their way?