Sumit Sharma

Archive for February 21st, 2010

I missed out on a Serendipitous encounter yesterday

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Lets take this idea of influencing serendipity to a whole new level…to the physical plain enabled by physical location awareness and entities having the ability to have a DNA that qualifies whatever the representation is into a discrete set of values…and in doing so we’d be able to influence serendipity to a whole new level.

Here is an example of what I mean:
Yesterday, I was walking down 3rd street in San Francisco, and came across an advertisement on a moving bus for a Kathak + Tap dancing duet. I’d have loved to have known about that – but I didn’t. So then the question that arose was, perhaps I’m not plugged in enough? Perhaps I need to subscribe to certain newsletters or organizations? But then, I was thinking, how many do I subscribe to? Who, when, what and where do I go to, look towards and sign up for? Perhaps the answer lies in the premise of enabling serendipity on the physical plain(using location awareness etc), using my virtual (i.e. Facebook profile, Ticketmaster activity etc) and physical past activities (concerts attended etc) – so think about this scenario:

The ad on the bus has the following characteristics:
1. It has a well categorized description, using standardized descriptors (I’ve already written about the need for standardized metadata – this is where the semantic web comes in)
2. Its got a geo-sensor enabling it to be discovered if it slips my eye.

Here are my characteristics:
1. I have a user profile, be it on FB, Google, Amazon, Yahoo or all the above meshed into one. From this, the aggregator knows my interests…
2. I am on my mobile phone which is also location aware

Here is the role of the aggregator, or the serendipity producing engine (I’ve already written about aggregators and their importance and click here for that):
A bus comes near me and just by chance, it happens to have an ad, which according to the aggregator, I’d be interested in seeing. So, after recognizing I’m in the vicinity, it sends me a non intrusive email, text or whatever I specify in my preferences, and notifies me of this event. This eliminates the need for me to always worry about self selecting myself into a segment of customers that want to know the latest and greatest of something specific. Sometimes I like to be surprised…And, this reduces the work for aggregators to a certain extent because instead of always being on the look out for ads, content and information for passing on to me (in the background that is), it only needs to do real time serendipity..not online matching, but real time matching. Speed Dating.

More…this provides a great platform for people to get themselves out there, advertise products and services and infuence chance encounters with potential un-suspecting customers. Taking this even further, because there is no end to the potential of this stuff…but what if it hooked us up news/content based on certain similarities with other people, not necessary in our social graph, but people who frequent the same places as us, or those that share our bus route or drive a similar road everyday, or perhaps happen to download the same songs we do…this would all be invisible to everyone so privacy wouldn’t be an issue. The aggregator is merely a broker of information and how it does it is a black box. The list goes on. How cool would that be?


Written by Sumit

February 21, 2010 at 11:57 pm