Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wrong concept called “digital” friendship

Let us discuss the concept of “digital” (=Yes/No) friendship that governs today’s social networks. I am afraid this concept is outdated as it doesn’t reflect reality of peoples’ relationships. It should be replaced by a more natural concept of, say, “communication proximity”, which would be dynamically built on frequency of communication between any two people.

The long-term solution would be to incorporate a standard to the internet that would unambiguously identify people along all ways of their communication. Even if I read an article of certain author, this should be calculated as his one-way communication with me. If I post comment under that article and the author reads it, it will be already a two-way communication. After collecting all these data, everybody would have a personal map available to him that would automatically map people in his neighborhood – from his closest friends to some remote potential contacts; in addition there should be possibility to map people not just by frequency of communication, but also by common professions, interests, hobbies. In other words, even results from this mapping exercise would be highly personalized and would offer variety of outputs. This model would correspond much closer with reality than today’s digital Yes/No schemes.

Ideally, contact management systems should be developed that would automatically watch all means of my communication: email systems, IM systems, (VoIP) phone applications, and that would also integrate with my calendar, as personal meetings are also a way of communication. To allow these applications being established, a clear method to uniquely identify people in their different ways of communication should exist. Yes, we are again returning to the concept of “Unique Personal Identificator” described earlier in this blog. Unfortunately, nobody has the authority to define such a thing, even if it is very useful. Several interesting attempts exist (e.g., FOAF), but the way to go is probably through creating a de-facto standard.

And now we are coming to our question. How can, to your opinion, such a standard develop? Which is the most likely scenario that would force people to use certain identification method in all their communication?

I have some ideas and I am ready to share them with you, but would love to hear your opinions first.

Friday, May 18, 2007

My third book: Effective business on Web 2.0

My new book arrived on the market these days. For those of you who can read in Czech language it brings some practical tips of how to use internet applications dubbed “Web 2.0” in everyday business. We are not in a fully automated world yet, but we are getting closer and closer to this vision literally every day. Enjoy!

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Opportunity to be filled: personal notes in contacts

The history taught us one lesson very clearly: the best chance for adoption have those products that solve particular customer problem. So let us have a look at one particular customer problem now; problem which is well known, but yet unsolved today. It is a problem of managing personal notes in our contacts.

Most contact organizers, both in paper and electronic form, allow users to add personal comments to any contact in the database. This in fact splits the information in organizers in two groups:

  1. Contact information with up-to-date phone number, email address and job title – this part would be preferably updated by the contact himself;
  2. Strictly personal judgments and notes that are unambiguously linked to the contact information, but still remains the sole property of the user who wrote it. This part cannot be updated automatically and may be shared if and only if it is explicitly required.

To my knowledge, solution that would separate these two categories and would allow synchronizing the public part while still keeping the private part untouched doesn’t exist on the market. “Personal tags” in Xing are not satisfactory for this purpose indeed. In a long-term, "Unique Personal Identificator" defined earlier in this blog, would solve this problem – it would unambiguously link all information about particular person both on the web, and in personal notes of whichever form. But before these general solution emerge, there is a gap on the market. Any interest to fill it?

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Three quick tips for Gmail team

This will be a short one. I have the following recommendations for the Gmail team:

  1. When searching in Gmail, display not only emails that contain searched words, but also contacts containing these words. Alternatively, add “search contacts” next to “search mail” button.
  2. After opening an email, make the email addresses “live” – allow opening particular contacts by right-clicking to any email address, which is displayed in the header or in the body of email, including addresses in “From”, “cc:” or “To” fields (should work similarly like the "Linkedin companion" plugin for Firefox)
  3. Allow opening mail messages in new windows, for example by right-clicking to emails in inbox

I am sure these changes would be quite helpful and still very easy to implement.