Monday, May 28, 2007


Too much Indian food. Like TOO MUCH. But you know what? It's so good I don't care. But I do feel loaded down by a lead hammer in my belly.,

So I'm nearly done with Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs and have all these crazy ideas in my heads. In particular, how pop culture really defines who we are and what we're about. But no one's really done this for business yet. How about: is there cultural signficance to Facebook/MySpace? What's about the general progression of past to modern business style? Or implicit meaning behind the iPod's success beyond consumer taste and delving into consumer philosophy. Sure this sounds a little nuts, but this is a blog: what the hell else am I going to write about? What I ate for dinner? (Dammit...never mind).

Let's tackle the first question. Quite recently Facebook announcement a major initiative to allow business/brands/anybody to develop applications on an open platform called F8. MySpace, on the other hand, is clamping down on widget companies to prevent unauthorized use of valuable profile real estate. And it's so weird because Facebook was this Nazish, single style controlled environment while MySpace was the free love, guitar stringing, high-on-'ludes version of your hippie uncle's social network. What we have now is a battle of epic proportions.

But not the one you're thinking of in terms of expanding user base and stealing advertising dollars. Well, that's a brewing conflict too but you can read 30 other blogs which address this issue; last thing I want to be is another industry commentator. No, what we have here is for more subtle yet 10x more significant. The winner of the Facebook vs. MySpace showdown will define the future of "cool."

Think about it. Your profile page in today's world reveals so much about you (and no, I don't mean reveals in the way some stalker would get excited). From hobbies, photos, interests, birthday...and this info and for what reason? To show the world who you are. And to find out about other people, ostensibly your friends and immediate network. It's personalized and customized. People used to chat on the phone for hours, or meet at the mall. Now we meet in cyberspace and "poke" each other. Yes, we've matured so much since the 80's.

But we lack something when we go online, and that is the imbued meaning and learning that stems from creating such connections. As a digital representation of yourself, a static profile page isn't the best representation of who you are. It's passive, non-interactive, and generally requires your input at all times to be interesting.

Now many companies are trying to evolve the use of this data into recommendations: radio, ChoiceStream, Aggregate Knowledge...and this is all great and fine because it's about recommended purchases or new content and everyone loves that (including the music industry). But at the end of the day it's a half-there concept because it takes passive data and creates passive analysis.

What would be more interesting (and extremely difficult) would be a dynamic homepage which "understands" the threads and connections between the various stated interested and content available on your profile. The fact that I like the Matrix and Linkin Park currently are two pieces of disparate, independent information with no logical thread and therefore no conclusion. But what if you could deduce that me liking those two elements revealed more about my personality and more importantly, derived some plausible meaning from that combination of preference? Because at the end of the day, all preferences, cultural or not, are driven by some personalized experience and philosophy. And garnering a better understanding of those particular pieces of data would not only help us sell better and more interesting products (beyond those concluded by simple collaborative filtering) but also uncover deep insight into our enigmatic and often irrational psyches. Thus, we shift from "user generated content" whereby users create content as inputs and sharing and exploration, to "generated content for the user" where the profile itself produces insights and analyses of the profile which provide reflection and perspective otherwise unknowing to the regular user.

Is this possible? Unsure. Am I nuts? Possibly. Time will tell.

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