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