Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Just in time information

The rising tide of user-created content and of companies decentralizing - and in some instances reversing - their communications models, is throwing everything into question.

Publishers (content creatures or aggregators) are being pulled in both directions especially when it comes to the fraught area of hosting communities and user generated content.

Who in the end will benefit? Making a buck or making a difference? Both probably – one doesn’t disregard a profits AND societal benefits. It happens all the time.

Information has become a strategic economic and business resource as well as a social and political tool. Thus the introduction of censorship and filtering tools.

And let’s not kid ourselves – censorship is a profitable business. There is money in misinformation.

Google is the best case on a small scale that there is a huge profit in ‘altering’ a normal communication flow. Pay for position in the form of product placement - either on the shelf or on Oprah - is the marketing backbone of the FMCG industry and is becoming the norm in the Web 2.0 world.

This new pattern generates more than just technical issues (No - not AJAX - it is not the 'just in time' platform that all you seem to think it is); it creates issues around how information is created in the first place.

What information should be filtered? How can we identify deceptive information? When we see the same data, do we get the same information? How do filters which are known to impact information quality?

So what's the big deal?

Social norms are cultural phenomena that naturally emerge in humans (and animals) and help to prescribe and proscribe normative patterns of behavior. Social media is affecting these norms at all levels of communications and within all organizations. I mean really starting to drive change.

Virtual is becoming reality. Most of us have played with virtual communities. Some of us actually role-play in some sim-wannabes. Relationships, networks and now economic models are becoming real with virtual ATMs passing out real dollars.

\after.the.fact\ And real lawsuits have also started.

Nothing new, the military saw this a decade ago - so did Bill Joy.

In many application areas, including urban planning, utility workflow, guideline and protocol management, architecture and biology to name a few, information is being introduced into the equation. 'Time' as a variable (composite and/or periodic events, mutually related by temporal constraints on the desired outcome) and geo-positioning are also becoming very important.

Such events represent ‘classes’, since they can be instantiated to specific executions of the decision making process and each execution must ‘respect’ the temporal constraints imposed on the corresponding classes.

Research is being done using constraint propagation algorithms to deal with constraint inheritance and to perform temporal consistency checking.

Needless to say - don't read that paper - all it means is that information, in several different forms, hits a human from all angles and this 'puzzle' needs to be digested in a way that makes sense within the constraints of todays societal norms crossed with the specific individual’s norms. Agents are being developed for AI purposes but also for medical or biometric uses. Robotics will develop these further until body-machine implants can communicate directly with the primary sensory areas of our cerebral cortex.

Today, with more information and the recognition that information is digested in a cognitive fashion using all the senses (and more), information is actually affecting our beings beyond what we consciously recognize. The basic premise of information and biology are closer than we think.

Ever feel you have just realized that you know something but you don't know how you know? That's what I am talking about but not necessarily at the level of the individual – if smart mobs act similar to individuals, how is information digested by the mob – reminds you a bit of the Borgs, eh?

Weird but true – we’re sorta going in the same direction.

But it’s not about community decision making. I think that it’s more about the ‘just in time’ aspect of information. The ‘when and where’ are just as important as the information itself.

The development of the social media arena is actually changing the context-aware adaptive communication protocols that we use - like wearable devices, user-centric mobile services, peer discovery or networking communities.

These can be reconfigured according not only to the local context, but also to the context of the learning triggers (read: value) like time and position as well as the softer triggers like shadow, texture, smell and associative pairing.

Contextual information and how it is configured feed a Markov decision process that derives the appropriate value to the receiver of the information – marketers rely on this – the education industry doesn’t quite get it yet.

The advantages of this are illustrated using an adaptive group communication situation that is being validated by the increase use of mobile devices as communication delivery platforms.

Just in time information IS important and will transition facilitate a transition to Web 3.0 – it is as important where you get the info as the info itself.

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