RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit the Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, at The University of California Irvine, the school where my son will be matriculating this fall. During the visit, I learned about the field of Informatics–the study of human/computer interaction. Anyone serious about a career involving New/Social Media should keep a close eye on Informatics, because it holds the keys to our collective futures.

Think about how we interact with computer devices today. We’re constantly updating our statuses, letting others know what we are doing, seeing, and feeling. Our GPS-enabled portable media devices know both our physical locations and our calendars, thus have the information necessary to get us from point A to point B. Add wireless connectivity to vast networks of information and these devices can route us around traffic congestion while also helping us to decide whether or not we should  carry an umbrella when we get there. The study of Informatics will add decision-making capabilities to these devices, making them Super Personal Digital Assistants.

For example, it’s almost noon on a cold and rainy Tuesday in the not-so-distant future. You haven’t eaten breakfast, are physically thirty minutes away from your 1:00 p.m. appointment and need to grab lunch. Your Super PDA takes all of this into account and recommends a restaurant less than a mile away.

But the choice isn’t arbitrary. After culling through a list of local restaurants that can get you in and out in less than thirty minutes, it suggests the one that just happens to have your favorite soup on its “Specials Menu.” Had it been 85 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny, it would have suggested a local deli that is adjacent to your favorite frozen yogurt shop.

We in Social Media need to pay close attention to places like the Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences and its study of Informatics. As the Social Web expands, adding millions of people with billions of more messages, opportunities will arise for us to help our clients make contextual-based marketing connections with their customers.

Ah, to be 18 again.

Photo Credit: Kevin Coles

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Comments

The proverbial mashup is indeed tantalizing. And the creation of an intelligent “passive” web is very exciting.
One of the key challenges will be the design of interaction metaphors (where I thought your post was going actually). This is a real challenge. The limitations of technology today (a stateless browser, for example) present all sorts of problems to overcome. Having the data to make decisions is an important piece – how to present the results in an acceptable and usable manner is another.

James Colgan
April 14, 2009

The proverbial mashup is indeed tantalizing. And the creation of an intelligent “passive” web is very exciting.
One of the key challenges will be the design of interaction metaphors (where I thought your post was going actually). This is a real challenge. The limitations of technology today (a stateless browser, for example) present all sorts of problems to overcome. Having the data to make decisions is an important piece – how to present the results in an acceptable and usable manner is another.

James Colgan
April 14, 2009

Hmm, Contextual Based or Context Based? I’d argue for the latter. This brings an interesting question to mind. There are days/weeks when I withdraw from email/net communications for reasons as varied as health, workload, location, and just plain orneriness. My 13-year-old, however, is constantly texting and frequently posting or emailing. I find it soothing to “get away” for a day–she finds it stressful. Can Net-genners handle down-time?

Deb Bartle
April 15, 2009

Hmm, Contextual Based or Context Based? I’d argue for the latter. This brings an interesting question to mind. There are days/weeks when I withdraw from email/net communications for reasons as varied as health, workload, location, and just plain orneriness. My 13-year-old, however, is constantly texting and frequently posting or emailing. I find it soothing to “get away” for a day–she finds it stressful. Can Net-genners handle down-time?

Deb Bartle
April 14, 2009

Folks, when you are writing a blog, be careful. Your editor may be reading:-)

I think that “down time” can be in context. With regards to informatics, our devices can learn when we are to be interrupted and when we are to be left alone.

Our kids have always had connected devices, so their online time is “normal.” Therefore, when they are offline, they feel stress. We, on the other hand, added these devices into our lives, so it is a relief when we are away from them.

I’m not prepared to say whether the old is better than the new or the new is better than the old. They are just different.

It will be interesting to see what happens, though!

ronploof
April 15, 2009

Folks, when you are writing a blog, be careful. Your editor may be reading:-)

I think that “down time” can be in context. With regards to informatics, our devices can learn when we are to be interrupted and when we are to be left alone.

Our kids have always had connected devices, so their online time is “normal.” Therefore, when they are offline, they feel stress. We, on the other hand, added these devices into our lives, so it is a relief when we are away from them.

I’m not prepared to say whether the old is better than the new or the new is better than the old. They are just different.

It will be interesting to see what happens, though!

Ron
April 14, 2009

While the idea of a Super PDA sounds like the best gadget imaginable I barely want to imagine a world where these items would be commonplace. I wouldn’t feel comfortable about having a device that houses enough ‘knowledge’ about me to offer up information that might make my life easier [at times.] Maybe I am just getting old!

Fran Jeanes
April 24, 2009

While the idea of a Super PDA sounds like the best gadget imaginable I barely want to imagine a world where these items would be commonplace. I wouldn’t feel comfortable about having a device that houses enough ‘knowledge’ about me to offer up information that might make my life easier [at times.] Maybe I am just getting old!

Fran Jeanes
April 24, 2009

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