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I just read a couple interesting posts on something called The Implicit Web which relates ideas of the Semantic Web, social computing, “clickstreams“, folksonomies, sophisticated search systems, intelligent software assistants, crowdsourcing, etc. By tracking the activity of people and analyzing semantic content on the web the Implicit Web can automatically discover networks of people and interests without the explicit kind of work one does in Twitter, Facebook, or Google search.
In other words, by tracking what you and others do and create (emails, blog entries, tweets, browsing activity, shopping, etc.), and by scouring the web and analyzing its content, these systems make sense of the web in a much more sophisticated way than the brute force kind of searching that Google does. So it could find correlations, generate connections, optimize searches, make you aware of implicit networks of interest, and generally act on your behalf to both filter the incoming avalanche of data, and provide better/faster means to get to interesting information that you might not otherwise find.
While this idea is related to the kinds of recommendations that Amazon and other sites do, it is stronger because it aggregates a lot more activity and content beyond the silo of a single site. Plus, the ultimate expression of the implicit web (I hope) is that the user will have more control, and can “dial-in” the criteria of a search or automated task to their specific interests at that moment, rather than being stuck with some company’s idea of your interests. This idea relates to my essay on Productive Interaction, where the design of these systems is not about creating enveloping, persuasive experiences (as experience design dictates), but designing contexts where users are empowered to create their own meaning spaces.
Related LINKS below
One of the online outlets of Communication Arts, designinteract.com (site dead), just covered the Infiniti Interactive Mirror — a life-sized video and sound installation where people interact with three 8 foot high screens by simply reaching out to different areas of the display interface. This project grew out of one of our graduate’s thesis project and work he did in my Interactive Objects and Spaces class with fellow student Scott Nazarian (MDP, 2004). Nikolai Cornell (MDP, 2004) conceived of and managed the project which was built for carmaker Infiniti by George P. Johnson in collaboration with the Designory, Mindflood, and my company, Commotion. The installation is part of the traveling Infiniti auto show exhibit and was displayed at the Detroit and Chicago auto shows. It will soon be in New York City, and in December it will be in Los Angeles.
The designinteract.com article is especially interesting in that it covers the entire process of the project, from concept through completion: www.designinteract.com/features/mirrors/ (site dead – instead please view a PDF of site rescued from the wayback machine at archive.org)
For an overview of the project and video of people using it, see the dedicated site for it here: www.interactivemirror.net