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The Anticipatory/Predictive/ Intention Web
We all have silent little conversations with our computers, don’t we? Admit it. “No, that’s not what I meant.” “Go back.” “Are you still alive?” We talk to them like they are pets. We hope they will understand a few words we give them, knowing we will have to remind them again and again to get down off the couch, to stop eating slippers, to sit. We talk to other things too, lots of things, that don’t talk back with us.
Computers (software, web services), however, enable more complex discussions and as technology is taking hold of more and more of our time, there exists the early inefficiencies of any major change. The creation and distribution of information online, your information, and that of everyone else remains for the moment at a pivot point, balancing between traditional media control and a rising of consumer-driven content. The time is ripe for a significant advancement* in the “anticipatory web.” A change in the user experience is about to come.
Sit. Stay. Good Web.
It’s fair to say I have spent a lot of my life on computers, on software development, and the marketing of each. Five years ago, my attention centered on connecting companies with their customers primarily by paying for lead information, casting test advertising nets into the Internet ocean, and mitigating their adoption concerns (i.e. understanding why they wouldn’t buy.) Now, working on our own software (finally) at Grabbit I am thinking more about the intelligence of software to understand a user’s needs, preferences, patterns, etc. (all without endangering their trust.)
The complex equations of algorithms combined with the implicit behavior and data given to us by the user will help developers create next-generation software systems that anticipate more fully who you are and what you want from an end-user perspective. We’ve seen baby steps in this direction for many years online. Auto-fill forms, “keep me logged in” buttons, and so on. But software can take a big step — a step that produces interaction.
Companies can address product or service concerns, or open public discussions about other issues concerning their customers and by doing so, anticipate what user’s want (importantly) based on use AND explicit feedback, for instance. In turn, customers can offer – by way of behavior or explicitly-given feedback – additional information about themselves. Also, because of periodic down economies, lack of capital and simple software that provides basic information, many software companies (especially internal divisions of large corporations and underfunded start-ups) circumvent market research, focus groups and other comprehensive testing techniques for the web services and pay for it in adoption or poor press.
* The term Anticipatory web is not in any way a ‘new’ term. Q. Why now? A. Product and service providers have conglomerated into several the major categories. They have matured enough to offer partner programs, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), and support for these. Concurrently, web service developers are creating sophisticated programs to anticipate consumer behavior, therefor unlocking revenue for many of the software companies who will have otherwise failed. Happy customer. Happy company. Happy investors.
Have an example to share? I’d love to hear about it!