I’m just finishing an enjoyable novel by Cory Doctorow, Makers. It chronicles two inventors operating in the United States 15 to 20 years from now (the actual time period is not revealed) after another economic/tech downturn, similar to the 1999/2000 dotcom crash.
Readers will recognize most of the technology and information services used, e.g., email, IM, blogs and Twitter. But Doctorow’s vision for these services a decade or two into the future is quite enlightening.
One area that’s much improved over today’s practices is the use of technology to prioritize the avalanche of information bombarding users. Here’s a passage from the book:
He’d been tuning his feed watchers…for nearly a decade, and this little PR item rang all the cherries on his filters, flagging the item red and rocketing it to the top of his news playlist, making all the icons on the sides of his screen bounce with delight.
All you news junkies out there, isn’t that how you want your email/RSS/Twitter/ Facebook streams to work? The most-important info pops to the top and alerts you at the same time. Google is doing great work along these lines with its Priority Mailbox introduced in August (previous post), which now works on mobile phones as well (see inset).
Opportunity for Netbankers: I’m looking forward to the time when my bank, card issuer and/or third-party aggregator does the same for my finances and alerts me to odd transactions, excessive charges, and potential savings. And more importantly, helps me take action to resolve the issue.
But it can’t be delivered in a pile of email alerts sent every day. I tune those out. Just tell me about the IMPORTANT transactions triggering the “financial alarms” and keep mum about everything else. Thanks.