…and no, this is not just another rambling screed about how the NSA domestic spying program is TEOTWAWKI. Although that’s always fun.
No, this is about the fumbling attempts to try to figure out how to deliver the news/information/entertainment (and they are all one now, let’s just accept it and move on) that you want and need. As has been endlessly noted, by derivative hacks like myself, the information flow on the ‘Net is all about breaking up the hieirarchy of "Me talk – You listen" that the old media was all about. Yay for us.
The problem becomes how do the various news/information/entertainment (hereinafter referred to as "NIE") providers get your what you want? And how do you refrain from stumbling and bumbling all over the landscape while real cool stuff that you would love to know/see/hear lie undiscovered at your elbow? How do we make this New Media thing work in a way that isn’t about shoveling crap at you or having to wade through garbage to get to the jewels?
One solution is for some outside agency or company to track what it is that you look at and then try to give you more.
I like this idea so much that I’ve yanked the phone cord out of the back of my TiVo so it can’t rat me out to the Corporate Overlords and clog up the hard drive with "suggestions".
I put up with the Amazon.com list of "hey, you liked this book – you might like these other ones that probably aren’t as good, but have neat cover illustrations" because I don’t buy all that much stuff from Amazon and I figure that if I spread out my purchases they can’t get a real good bead on me.
But still. Makes me a bit uncomfortable.
This might be the answer – and the full confession is that I kyped this off BoingBoing …
Musical Myware, Felix Miller, CEO Last.fm. Felix introduced me to the term "myware" — spyware that you run on your own activities, which helps you get a better handle on your needs and wants and helps your computer help you better.
I love this idea: people are good at making decisions and computers are good at counting them (and computers are bad at making decisions and people are bad at counting them). My computer should note, count and process every decision I make — it should notice that I never answer emials from certain people, it should notice that I never click through certain stories in my reader, that I load certain pages every day, that I often search my mailbox for certain kinds of messages and so on. That’s stuff I’m totally unqualified to keep track of, and that computers are really good at:
Myware is like spyware, but it lets you spy on yourself.
Why would you spy on yourself? Why would you share the data with Last.fm?
Last.fm: Tell us what music you listen to, anytime, all the time, without even realizing it
Napster made all music ever recorded available — so how do you know what to listen to? Mission: "Harness the knowledge of the crowd." Someone out there knows what you should be listening to; no need to read tedious editorial.
Audioscrobbler installs in media-players like iTunes, etc and reports what you’re listening to at any moment and updates your user-profile. Only records stuff you listen to, but not stuff you skip — just the stuff you pay attention to.
This has real promise. If there’s something in my local computer box that tracks what I look at and find interesting, and then sends its tendrils out to find other stuff like that … but only when I want it to, and only in ways that I find acceptable … and I can actually make a few coin by licensing what I want/like/need … well, that’s OK then. Until some script kiddies start screwing around and slurping all that data off my hard drive with a bot.
There’s a good space here for someone coming up with something using the meme "blind date" where your computer "fixes you up" with content that they think that you’ll like. ("Really, this story has a great personality! Yeah, so maybe it could use a little slimming down in a few places, but it’s really sweet! Trust me!")
More on this as I recover from last night’s multi-birthday party.