2011: Cutting Through the Noise to Get the Signal

Posted by Kate Jurras on Mon, Jan 3, 2011

Guest post by Jeff Janer, Co-Founder & CEO of Spring Partners, and MITX board member. Follow Jeff on Twitter! This is one of several guest posts in the MITX 2011 Perspectives Blog Series. Stay tuned for many more posts by Boston's most influential thought leaders.

As the overwhelming amount of digital data that people consume and create on their desktops and mobile devices – via check-ins, favorites, tweets, and likes - continues to expand exponentially, we could all use some help cutting through the noise to get to the signal. Will 2011 be the year?

In order for that to happen, we've got some problems that need to be solved:

  • Noise: Ideas and information that are important to you are inevitably commingled with all of the noise of the real time web.
  • Timeliness: You don't always come across useful information and ideas when you’re looking for them.
  • Re-Search: How often do you search and find something interesting, only to do it all over again when you can't remember where you put it or what it was?
  • Fragmentation: Verticalized discovery services and social services make it increasingly difficult to retrieve and even remember where you found it in the first place.
  • Scale: The more friends you have, the more sites there are and the more things you want to know (what's happening, who's doing what, etc.) - the louder the noise becomes.

hat resized 600So, where do we get some help? Luckily, there are promising "signals" beginning to emerge to help filter and capitalize on finding, saving, and taking advantage of what's important to you.

  • The Semantic Web and structured data: Enhanced data services and applications are emerging that can detect what you're searching for, saving, or sharing. These services not only give you a basic result, but they also add meaning and value by anticipating and helping you to take the next step to actually "do something." For example, search for a restaurant on Bing and you'll not only get the restaurant, but also a link to Open Table for reservations and Grub Hub for ordering.
  • Context awareness: Geo-targeting is great, and soon we'll begin to take it to the next level. By combining where the users are, what time it is, and what we know about them, applications can start to provide incredibly relevant information. Smart technologies that make it quick and easy to find what you're interested in without you having to do a lot of work will help sort through the noise. For example, need a table for 2 at your favorite restaurant next Thursday? Just talk to Siri.
  • Convergence: Currently, the typical consumer's attention span is highly fragmented, and there is no continuity across platforms and messaging. But as our infrastructure becomes IP-based, and more and more devices can talk to each other, it will be possible to deliver consistent, relevant information to users in multiple places at relevant times. If our data can live in the cloud, why not all of our interactions with that data?

By taking advantage of structured data and context awareness to enhance your interactions on the web and your phone, applications and services like Tripit, Zemanta, and Springpad are dedicated to helping you cut through the noise to get to the signal.

Did you just discover this series? Don't worry! You can check out our last post, by John Francis, here!