Apologies first for linking blog entries with song lyrics. Memo to Self – kick this silly habit. Response from Self – but your whole information behaviour is just a series of silly habits, so why quit a comparatively harmless one? (That’s the trouble with Self, I find. Such a smart ass. Makes the whole idea of an interior dialogue so pointless and frustrating.) But habitual information behaviours is not a subject to be given up lightly. The way we learn, absorb, research and find content contentment is intimately bound into habitual patterns of finding out, and some internet innovations work with those patterns – while others work radically against them. I remember returning from the US some years ago, newly signed into Twitter and LinkedIn, and wondering if these would ever become parts of my habitual behaviour, and, lo, it comes to pass that they are lungs through which I breathe. Yet I thought the innovation which would most change my life was going to be StumbleUpon, and I find that I have changed machines and not re-installed it.
So here I am, back in the US again (an experience that happens most months, admittedly) and once more we are in a firestorm of service innovation. During a trip which will take me to New York (twice), San Diego and Nashville, I find a constant reminder of the atmosphere around the internet boom of the early years of this century – and the way it continued despite the dotcom bust. I heard an investor yesterday talking about the “new bubble”, while governments and bankers are still meeting to resolve the last one (whose predecessor was the one whose subsequent regulatory adjustment would bring to an end, in our lifetimes and forever, the cycle of boom and bust…)
So what will this round of hyper-invested, hyper-hyped internet launches do to my habitual behaviours? Quite a bit, perhaps. I have now encountered three, new to me as a user, which could fit that category. I am sure they will be familiar to many of you already, but here are some random reactions from a new user:
- I was really impressed by Qwiki (www.qwiki.com). Loved the Vimeo. delighted to see the return of Dr Louis Monier of AltaVista fame. I have signed up to the Alpha because it seems to me that the idea of defining topics and people in short clips, and then turning them into audio as well as text and maps and video equates very well with the way people learn, and with the demands of mobile access. If you are English, enter the topic “Eustace Folville” and you will see what I mean. If this catches on then it becomes an instant referencing point for learning processes. At present the charming American computerized voice lacks all pronunciation skills, but the service does answer the teacher who said to me at BETT that “my kids are too lazy and don’t read well enough to copy Wikipedia”! And if you are a Publisher and reading this blog, go straight to the “For Publishers” section on this site: you have around a day to decide whether you catch at the new bandwagon – or not!
- I shall certainly use www.unsubscribe.com to hoover away all of the persistent marketeers who still litter my email with unwanted marketing messages. Yes, you know who you are! Toner Giant, the Kiawah Island marketing department and others! I have tried to unsubscribe but you seem not to hear. Now we have a service that will message you back until you desist, and remove you from my inbox. I can do as many of you as I like for $20 a year, and the whole thing works on a downloaded extension to the email client which produces an “unsubscribe” button alongside each email. The internet world creates its own vices and compensates with its own correctives (the founder calls his service “email hygienics”). In October they raised $2.1 million in a funding round led by Charles River Ventures.
- And I would love Spokeo (www.spokeo.com) to work – and globally. I know that it will recreate the privacy wars , and that what it does is probably illegal in most of Europe, but I think that we all want to be able to work in a directory context where we enter one piece of information and get all the others in terms of directory access. How often I lack an email address, and even the invaluable LinkedIn cannot help, or urgently need a street address, or a location map, or to know which email address is current. I am often less concerned about social network membership, personal wealth, or photos and videos showing the individual on the web. But Spokeo searches and combines all this, and frighteningly well in the US, so that if I resided here I would want to be able to specify exactly what connections it made, especially between personal and business connectors. But what it is doing is something that the phone companies never managed to do online, and it is a solution, again, which fits a mobile access world like a glove. And £2.95 per month.
My previous generation having reached maturity with the LinkedIn IPO last week, I shall be interested to see how this new generation fares. Qwiki may be the StumbleUpon of my new crop, of course, but I would not bet upon it. Service innovation succeeds on the network because specific behavioural requirements are met, because service pricing and conditions of use are appropriate and because users recognize its place in their own personal “workflow” of active transactional engagement with the world around them. All that and something else too – they must feel good using it and feel that others think they look good as a result. Get to that last homebase as well and services score. I shall watch my new trio like a hawk!keep looking »