Posts Tagged ‘Social Software’

Automated or Connectimated

May 28, 2008

I guess I am really looking for here is an answer to a question that a lot of people are asking these days.  One that had become all to real to me recently: Is it better to have automated services or people backed services.  I am not talking about Robots doing the work – but more about the real life situations that we get ourselves into where we rely more and more on dysfunctional technology to help us.

Even though, Google is an amazing search engine, it still has it’s faults.  Searches on “Locksmiths in Springfield Ma” returns great results on the front end – it is the intricate details that it cannot.  For instance, if you call all of those results from Google you will soon find out that you are in luck with almost every major car brand except Volkswagen (one of the prices you pay to drive the best car ever made =).

So, unless someone lists on their website (more than half of the Locksmiths in the Springfield, Ma area don’t even have websites) that you specialize in Volkswagens – Google can’t help you.  It is beyond the technology leap – you need some level of human intervention.

If you are tenacious enough however, to continue to search for locksmith’s and you start calling them – most of them will tell you the dealer is the only place (who intern tells you to wait until Tuesday – not good when you are stranded 120 miles from home on Friday before a long vacation weekend) that can make Volkswagen keys.

If you happened to call 24 Hour Locksmiths in West Springfield they would have told you to call A & J Locksmith and when you talked to Johnathon at A & J he would have told you to call and ask for Paul at “Scott’s Locks” in West Hartford – and he would have called Scott (Paul’s partner) who would have called you back 3 hours later to tell you he could do it.  But that only goes for the tenacious few that have nothing better to do than to stare at all of the people having fun at Six Flags while calling every locksmith in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Flashback to earlier today: I was traveling to D.C. to work with a client and arrived early to my hotel in hopes I could get some work done before my 1:30 demo with a prospective client.  During my trip down from the airport (40 minute drive) I contemplated the possibility that the hotel would not have a room ready for me when I arrived at 10:30.  Quite possibly, I would have to find a place to do some work with a descent (cheap – if not free) Internet connection.

Ok – so here is my second scenario for “Connectimated” – I would have liked to have been able to connect with a few people in the area (more than likely people I have never met before) and ask them where a good place would be to get Internet access for a few hours in a quiet place (that was not Starbucks or Borders).  Preferably somewhere where I can get a Dew and sandwich.  My new “Connectimated” service application would essentially ping a bunch of people in the area asking them if they wanted to help an incoming traveler with a service request.

Sites like Mahalo and Spock have begun to challenge the “Automated” response system that is Google.  Each offering services which are either aided or centralized around Human interaction.  These systems are critical because I think that the automated services may never get to point where they can understand true human interaction.  Even Google is testing “User generated content”.  You can see it in search results using Google Maps.

What I see is a combination application like Twitter, Brightkite (or the like) and Mahalo.  A platform with which to communicate on rather than building a platform with all the answers.  A crowdsourcing style approach may be just what we need.

Maybe we are pushing too hard and maybe we need to use systems to be smarter at connecting people who can help each other and not providing the help beyond capabilities.  We live in a complex world and it is unlikely that we will ever teach systems to understand us – truly.  Why try?

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I am finally getting what I once thought wis.dm was going to give me

May 27, 2008

I was once a member of the social networking site wis.dm – back before it changed it’s platform from a link sharing format to the current question/answer format.  I wrote about the site a few times and at the beginning was very interested in the content that I had amassed there – and the relationships that I had begun to build.

What I thought was great about the previous format of wis.dm was how easy it was for me to build my own community.  Instead of the masses of communities available in Facebook, you could create “groups” which were essentially “tagged” with topics. When people shared links (similar to what you do in del.icio.us) you could notify your “group” and engage them in conversations.  Since you could create your own groups I likened the experience to a “research group” – similar to those in college around a project or a specific class.

In these “groups” we could share links and add comments and weight responses – with the promise being that I could categorize my community:

– Who in the community knew the most about advertising

– Who had the inside track for latest fads

– Which group member had the best knack for interpreting analytics data

As a specialized group – each with our own goals – we could lean on each other and create a close nit community designed to educate us all – faster and better.

Talking with your community through Social NetworksI have begun using FriendFeed and joined a room (group/community) called “Social Computing Strategist” (thanks Jeremiah).  It is filled with people who want to talk about everything that I want to talk about.  And the nice thing about this – is instead of sharing links we share everything:

  • Messages – directly to the group
  • Blog comments – from any blog that supports “Disqus
  • LinkedIn profiles/changes
  • Posts to Digg
  • Posts to StumbledUpon
  • Heck – Link posts to every linking network known to man
  • Twitter posts
  • Flickr photos
  • Posts to Blogs

With every post (whatever it is) you can add comments.  The information is endless and what you get out of it (in a very chaotic sort of way) is a new way to talk.  A new way to find information.  It is sort of like Mahalo meets Wikipedia with a twist of RSS.  Very interesting.

Happy am I that I know have filled the void left by wis.dm – to bad they did not have the wisdom to see the possibilities with their original platform.

Twitter: @locksmith:springield:ma

May 24, 2008

I would like to add the following API to twitter or to have a service that would have made it easier for me today. I have to tell you a short story to set up the situation I was in today.

My wife (Shannon) and I decided to go to Six Flags Great Adventure today to get in some thrills and excitements before the beginning of the holiday weekend. It was to be my first real vacation day of the year (no computer, no cell phone, no work). We dropped the kids off to school and made our way to Springfield (actually Agawam but Six Flags is mostly referred to as being in Springfield).Superman Ride of Steel

We arrived at the park at 10:45 parked the car, took just what we needed (wallet, money, sunglasses, cell phone: wife’s only and the keys) and made our way into the park. We felt like we should have had on our “Hockomock YMCA Band Camp” t-shirts – wholly $hit was there a ton of kids there. Digressing a bit – sorry.

We got our season passes and were drawn inward. No real plan we just started walking as we passed the old wooden rollercoaster and the “free fall” we saw what we had both been anticipating since the day we decided to take this trip about 3 weeks ago: “Superman – The Ride of Steel”. 200+ foot initial drop 77 miles an hour and an amazing feeling of weightlessness at the top of every hill. Naturally I was stuck with everything in my pockets – including the sunglasses.

As we took the first deep everything felt good – wicked fast – wicked scary. We then approached the second hill – “way to fast” I am thinking – “dude we are going to launch off the top of this hill like a rocket” (note: this is where the feeling of weightlessness comes in) – as we were sucked down the backside of the hill I now knew that this ride, the one without the shoulder harness – just the bar and a sealtbelt, did not need any loops – just steep turns and many hills with which to launch off. After hitting all the major humps and feeling weightless about 5 times you head into the “slow-down” area for most coasters – accept this thing is still cranking.

The ride comes to the close after two small humps that still produce the feeling that your shooting out of a cannon – when it happend.

Shannon: “What was that” (sounded more like a yell than a statement)

Me: “I don’t know”

I didn’t. Just as we came over the apex of the last hill a little black thing flew in front and landed in the car in front of us. It was moving too fast to recognize.

Shannon “Your key”

Me: “No”

Clearly the key was nestled deep in my pocket along with every other valueable I collected from the car. My broken sun glasses (casualty of the Superman Ride) should have been proof enough that it couldn’t have been the key.

Alas, after I checked every deep pocket I had – it was no where to be found. The only key to my 2003 Volkswagen Passat – had been eaten by the Man of Steel. So – here we are (after visits to Guest Relations and hearing countless times that they would not be able to search for my key until the end of the day) at the need for my service.

After a call to the local dealership who stated the ONLY solution that I had was to tow the car to their dealership (I am 100 miles from my house mind you) and that they could get me a new key on Tuesday (the day I leave for Washington, D.C. – from boston at 7 AM). Uh… yeah right. In order to save my car and this weekends camping trip – I needed a locksmith.

This is how I would have liked to started my search:

Twitter: I am at Six Flags Great Adventure in Agawam, Ma. Lost my key on Superman ride – anyone in the park capable of helping me? @SixFlagsNE:help

The extra extension on the @SixFlagsNE would mean i needed help. There were thousands of people there that day. Why not connect us – all better. @SixFlagsNE:Line on Superman short, @SixFlagsNE:Batman closed, @SixFlagsNE:need locksmith.

Twitter + Brightkite.com equals locksmithI just signed up for Brightkite (still have 3 invites if anyone is interested) and I think that this is something that they may tack on to this – but for now this is for keeping in touch with your friends. I need it to help me when I lose my key on the Superman Ride. I can definitely say that we are headed to this communication level.

When I was at the park I could feel everyone in the park – and I am sure that there was probably someone that could have helped me.

Oh yeah and if you are curious – here is a link to the YouTube movie for the Superman Ride if you like roller coasters I highly recommend this and, If you look real hard at 1:31 of the film – I believe you can see my key – right below the track on the last hill. R.I.P switchblade VW key – I will miss you.