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[reboot] Jyri Engestrom on “Nodal Points”

Jyri Engestrom, whose company, Jaiku, was bought by Google, is talking about “Nodal Points: The emerging real-time social Web.” About four years ago, I heard Jyri talk about “social objects:” at Reboot, a talk that really stuck with me. Now Jyri works on social tools at Google.

Nodal Points is an homage to William Gibson, he says, and especially to a character who can predict the future by seeing patterns in human amounts of data.

Jyri says that social networks don’t explain why people are connected socially. He talks about the importance of social objects — objects that connect people in a social network. “Good web services allow people to create social objects that add value.” Mobile devices can help because they provide sensors that let us capture more data. This will be increasingly true.

Then we need to think about the verbs that people perform on objects. E.g., Flickr’s aggregation of what people have done with your photos. We should be surfacing the available actions.

“Social peripheral vision” lets you see what’s next. If you are unaware of other people’s intentions, you can’t make plans. “Imagine a physical world where we have as much peripheral information at our disposal as in WoW.” Not just “boring update feeds.” Innovate, especially on mobiles. We will see this stuff in the next 24 months. Some examples: Maps: Where my friends are. Phonebook: what are people up to. Email: prioritized. Photos: Face recognition.

Structurally, there are “object lockers” and on top of that a set of “activity aggregators.” “What’s key is filtering out what’s irrelevant.” Pattern recognition matters … hence, nodal points. “It’s not that different from Web search,” except the query is constant and consists of contextual parameters, e.g., who is copresent in the space, what’s in the calendar. “Imagine it’s all funneled into one big query” that runs constantly.

Detecting nodal points: “What should I be aware of that’s happening around me? Was what just happened significant to someone on the network.” And then deliver it to people at just the right time, perhaps via push. “Discovery is becoming social.” “It is the end of the era of search,” i.e., of querying for stuff. From browser to search to share (citing former ceo of paypal). From pagerank to “facerank” where what counts is friends in common, physical proximity, shared taste, shared objects.

He points to OpenID (identity), OAuth (authorization), and OpenSocial (interoperability).

Whe you develop a social service, your questions shoudl be: What is your object? Whare are your verbs? What are your nodal points?

Are we creating echo chambes?
An empirical question. Still open. In my own experience, no. We can build into the software the ability to prompt you with what would be interesting to you even though you would never have thought so. [heavily paraphrased]

[Great talk. And undoubtedly giving insight into Google’s plans for socializing its software.] [Tags: ]

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