Finding opportunities

Tim Bray has been analyzing forms of communication. He’s been looking at twitter, mail, IRC, etc. in terms of immediacy, lifespan, and audience. He says, “I’m going to keep fooling with this. You see, if you draw the right graph, maybe you’ll see the gaping hole in it, the Next Big Thing.” He’s got some cool graphs, but I think the new stuff comes from realizing there are axes you didn’t know about. E.g., Flickr suddenly added “sharing” where that category didn’t exist before. Twitter pushed the immediacy axis out a long way. That said, I’d love to be proven wrong …

  • I wonder how ISS would be rated. ISS is a set of open standards that combines feeds, blogs, e-mail and instant messaging.

    • Immediacy: If your personal social network is well connected with a particular topic, you’ll be able to discover and syndicate information fast.
    • Lifespan: It’s a lifelong aggregator that encompasses yours and other peoples’ information, thus the lifespan is proportional to the relevance of the information itself.
    • Audience: Information is propagated in a bottom-up manner. The cascading of trustful social networks works as a filter or distributed recommender system perfectly tuned to output a very personalized journal for each individual. So the audience is very precise.
  • Hmm. Seems he’s omitting a major way these modes differ: parallelism.

  • Very interesting article. I think another axis missing is the “quality or perception”. Something like “face to face” has maximum perception since we can get a lot of signals through body language. Something like SMS is on the other side of spectrum with finite amount of text-based communication.

    Once you add this axis in, you can also start to include other developments and communication mediums such as Virtual Worlds, video conferencing, Star-wars style holographic communications and the holly grail, tele-porting.

  • The holly grail? Must be a seasonal thing.

    Here’s another area of festering opportunity: talking cars: But I strongly suspect that the DoT is overly focused on moving traffic data to cars, or using cars as proxies in gauging congestion, and not thinking at all that cars are potentially interesting platforms in their own right, given that they’re sources of power, space for media storage, geospatial proxies for their owners, etc. I know there’ve been early dot-com attempts to facilitate dating via cars (with member codes on bumper stickers), and some sites allowing for reporting bad drivers, but what else will happen, once there’s a pervasive car-to-car/car-to-curb communications system? How about in mobile commerce? Or “eBay on wheels”… load the station wagon, then drive around neighborhoods and get “flagged down” when houses (acting for their owners) see something they like (eTinkerCart? ;-)