Relevance

My stomach is still on fire. We had Kentucky Fried Chicken at the office last night, and my 42 year old stomach can’t take the grease any more. The dev team gobbled it up, though.

We’re in crunch mode — that time when tech teams pull out all the stops and crank toward a release. It means a lot of late nights, catered in lunches and dinners (I know… KFC isn’t exactly catering, per se) so people can stay focused, and the push to a deadline. 

I’ve never worked on a technology project where it hasn’t come to this.  It was 2:30 AM when I finally hit the sack, yesterday.

So what are we working on?  A couple of months ago, I called a friend of mine and asked how his day was going.  “Lousy”, came the reply.  “I’ve spent the last two hours playing telephone tag”.

Next week we hope to be able to deliver an early release of a new feature for the iotum Relevance Engine, part of a roadmap of features we call “Minerva” internally.  We’re not quite sure what to call this feature yet… but I think it’s going to change the way people think about presence, especially mobile presence.  It’s not based on today’s presence technologies, although it’s something like presence.  It’s not a buddy list either, but more like a hybrid of a buddy list and a to-do list combined with telephony.  The goal for this feature is the elimination of telephone tag.

We’re going to be looking for a few people to try this out. Initially it will only be available on Blackberry.  If you have a Blackberry with OS release 4.1 or higher, and would like to participate in an early trial, feel free to drop me email.  I’ll send you an invite when it’s ready to download.

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Why does Live Messenger think I need a date?  Does it know something that I don’t know?  You see, I’ve been happily married for twenty years, as of today (yes, today is our anniversary!), and haven’t been part of the dating scene since my early twenties.

So why does Live Messenger persist in serving up LavaLife advertising to me, telling me that thousands of singles, just like me, are waiting to meet me?  Why is there a persistent LavaLife tab on the Messenger window?  Old world advertising model, right?  So it would appear.  Just push enough advertising at enough eyeballs and sooner or later someone will click on it.

Except that Microsoft knows that I’m 42, married, and only interested in using Messenger for business networking.  That data is part of the profile info I filled out when I signed up for Messenger.  They just don’t do anything useful with that information.  In fact, Messenger can probably detect that my network connection is in Palm Springs at the moment.  By comparing that location to my home location (also in my profile),  it could infer that I am here on business or a vacation, and offer up advertising for local restaurants and site seeing. 

Messenger is crying out for some relevance engineering.  Microsoft could do a much better job for their advertisers, and their users, by targeting the Messenger Live experience better.  Microsoft might find that they have more advertising slots available to sell if they targeted the advertising better, advertisers might get better results and be willing to pay a higher CPM, and users like me might actually click on advertising relevant to our specific interests.

In the meantime, I’m heading out for a special dinner this evening with the best, and only, date I’ve had in over twenty years.

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The Context Conundrum

August 12, 2006

The two big drivers of iotum’s functionality are context and relevance.  Context is the set of circumstances in which an event occurs.  Relevance is pertinance to the matter at hand. Today, iotum is capable of considering contextual inputs such calendar (are you in a meeting, what time of day is it, and so on), location, and presence.  It […]

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Your privacy pitted against context and reputation based systems

August 11, 2006

In the wake of the AOL search engine data fiasco, there have been a number of writers writing about the amount of data being collected by search engines, and other web sites, and how that data might be used.   Scott Lemon’s Google Knows Who You Really Are decomposes how Google collects the data, and Phil […]

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Rosenberg: Marrying Presence and Search

June 24, 2006

Art Rosenberg’s thought piece Using Search Technology to Contact People is worth a read.  He observes that business communications is composed of three main tasks: information access, business process transactions, and initiating / receiving contacts with people.  Rosenberg posits that search will change the nature of last activity, just as it revolutionized information access. Naturally […]

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‘Bumping Uglies’ with PhoneGnome

May 5, 2006

So there I was, bopping through my blogroll, minding my own business, when I came across this beauty titled "E.T. PhoneGnome" ~ he should have called Iotum. Among the gems in it: Remember E.T. that beloved alien, that wanted to do nothing more than ‘phone home’. Well that tearjerking little movie from the 80’s would […]

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Robert Scoble: Edge Case

January 16, 2006

We had the opportunity today to meet Scoble.  He’s as charming in person as he is on his blog. I believe in desgning for edge-case scenarios.  Our developers hate me, because I do things like trying to load my obscenely large address book into our system.  Scoble’s the poster-child for what we’re doing. He needs relevance […]

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The Oracle of Europe Speaks…

December 7, 2005

I finally connected with James Enck, author of the EuroTelco Blog, yesterday.  We had a terrific conversation about all things iotum, plus a variety of other topics.  In any case, here’s what he wrote about us.  James really gets the whole notion of context. Thanks for post, James!

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SNARF: Lots of Promise

December 5, 2005

Late last week there was quite a bit of commentary on a new utility from Microsoft Research called SNARF, or Social Network and Relationship Finder.  SNARF uses relationships to help you sort and categorize email — the same thing iotum does for incoming voice calls.  The promise of SNARF is that you will get to […]

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Presence and Voice: A Disaster Waiting to Happen

November 17, 2005

Bryan Richard’s piece What if Presence and Voice are a Bad Combination? is asking a really important question.  He writes: Imagine for a minute if a percentage, any percentage, of the relevant email and instant messaging you get on a daily basis were phone calls. Would you get more work done? Or would your phone […]

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