Call for open research on Sign.al – A product idea

Standard

Just read a fun to read post from Amit Klein, Product Manager at Directi.com where he proposes a product idea calling it Sign.al. Do read the post and give the credits to him in the comments. What I’m gonna do here is take down his points and edit / delete / remove them to add my two cents. And yes, this is a call for open research! So if anyone reading this would like to do the same to my post please go ahead. I am sure such product ideas are already in the pipeline at loads of places. I would like someone to add to the shortcomings and challenges. Oh and of course I know that building this product is a dream … but I seem to be having fun thinking about it!

First things first, that’s a killer domain name dude! Read on for more; the text in italics and red is original content from Amit:

We are overloaded with information. During the course of my day I email, tweet, comment, post, chat, message, buzz, check -n, call, SMS, MMS, BBM and sometimes (if I’m really lucky) actually talk to people. We are moving towards an ever increasing flood of content (much of it automated) and it’s only gettin’ worse. One day soon everything will tweet.

Some of the steps from my side that I have taken to curb this overload is move away from email for managing tasks, follow only 50 people on Twitter and *cough* say no to Google Buzz. But still I do invariably feel the need for a single platform which syncs all these media platforms and lets me manage all contacts, conversations and content from one central dashboard.


It’s not the the sheer quantity of information that’s the problem (faster flow of information will only help people achieve more), it’s how we send and receive it:

  • Sending: How do I send out information so that it reaches it’s intended audience only. In the upcoming era of persistent, public online identity, how do I can still share my green-beer, toga party pictures with my friends and make sure potential clients don’t see it? Additionally, I want to publicize my boring social media posts without spamming my friends who I know really, really don’t care.
    Very well put. I feel that media platforms have already taken the first steps by giving us more deeper control to our content updates e.g. Facebook now allows very customised privacy control on every status update. But these are just the first steps.
  • Receiving: With all this content around how do I make sure that that important stuff gets to me FAST, while the stuff that matters stays buried (until I get really bored or have lots of time to look through it).
    Once again, I can add nothing to the insight apart from the fact that we ave already taken the first steps e.g. Twitter now allows us to create lists which works out brilliantly.

The idea that’s been bouncin’ around my head tries to address the second point… enter: sign.al.

I have a dream… that one day my phone will ring when my buddy is callin’ me up to go grab a beer, while calls from vodafone bill collectors stay silent. That my blackberry will only flash in meetings only when really really important stuff happens (like the Mets scoring a winning run). That one day, we’ll be able to ignore the tens, hundereds or thousands of messages that don’t matter, and focus our attentions on the ones that do. Here’s how sign.al would work. Let us divide it into steps / interactions:

1st step: Initialising

  • You give it all your account information (Gmail, Facebook, Twitter etc)
  • It starts off like any aggregator (Seesmic for instance), showing you a timeline of emails, Facebook messages, Tweets, yadda yadda.

2nd step: Learn a user’s interactions preferences

  • Aright, now’s where it starts getting cool… after a little while, it moves away from a Timeline view, to a priority view. It starts guessing knowing what you are most likely gonna want to read and respond to and starts moving those to the top. This shift is already happening (FB news feed vs time line, Mozilla Raindrop, Xobni for Blackberry) Also Feedly for smart news aggregation and Hakia for semantic search. Have a look at how the semantic web is evolving here.
  • Sign.al can know what’s important by:
    • Frequency – How regularly you read and respond to individuals
    • Speed – Of your read/response
    • Popularity – The number of comments, RTs, likes, and mentions
    • Proximity – Number of shared connections
    • Medium – @mentions more weightage then email cc’s?
    • Geo-location – Are messages from Mumbai and NYC more important to me?
    • Time of day – Are certain types of messages more important at a certain time?
    • Content – Am I more likely to be interested in content about the Jets regardless of where, when, how it’s getting to me? (yes)
    • Recency – Moving away from this but still a factor
    • Top readers – Who are your biggest fans? Who reads your content very regularly? Everyone likes a bit of vanity :)
    • Friends of friends – Information networks like Twitter are inherently build to propogate and open up new relationships. Can I have an option to open up a new layer of 2nd degree connections?
    • Type of connections – Do I want people I know only on micro-blogs? Or maybe I just want a good old list of friends on phone? BTW the new Nokia phones on the open source Maemo OS are doing this pretty well, also Windows 7 phones are good in syncing social contacts across various platforms. But they still lag seamless engagement models.
  • Phase 2 – Phone app
    • Incorporating voice and SMS into the mix of content to prioritize
    • Different types of notifications instead of timeline: ring for an important sms, vibrate for a somewhat important @mention, silent for a newsletter.

I personally think Phase 2 needs to be released with the Phase 1 itself, but then again he’s the Product Development expert and not me!

  • Phase 3 – Setting status (implicitly?) in a meeting, driving, out to lunch – reduce/amplify notification methods. If I’m sitting at the airport bored and normally my phone vibrates for an important tweet, now ring.

A very interesting functionality. i doubt if we yet have good enough Artificial Intelligence to classify my state of activity by reading the sentiments in my status updates. Maybe some kinda categorising / rating system?

  • Phase 4 – Anticipate – Based on where I am, the type of message, who I’m connecting with, the medium, the format etc… start anticipating how I may respond to them (in a totally not creepy big brotherish way)

Totally against this one. I need to have a personal touch to my central communications console.

Ideas are a dime a dozen, execution’s what matters. Take this idea, build it, I’ll use it and be happy (just be forewarned you need to legal operations in Albania to actually register the sign.al domain name :P )

Amen! Any takers to take this forward?

  • http://amitklein.com amitklein

    im in :) we need devs … and maybe some neural networks

  • http://www.adityarao.name/ Aditya Rao

    I am sure its gonna need much more than devs! Are we actually taking this ahead into execution? If we are that serious (would need your help to get me serious) we need more research …

    lets get more people involved first :)

  • Aditya Gupta

    Interesting take on @amitklein's post. Most of it must be underway already ? And we might be expecting something out sooner or later?

  • http://www.adityarao.name/ Aditya Rao

    @aditya
    aaan no. nothings underway .. this is just some ideas everyone's bouncing off each other. would love if you can add your views to the research
    @amit
    interesting response eh? :)

  • http://www.reachaditya.com Aditya Gupta

    Phase 4 is the only phase which bothers me :) I personally like the breakup phase-wise, though I'd prefer most of them launching together :D (I'm a sucker for technology).

    Sure of nothing being underway? Surprised then.

  • http://www.adityarao.name/ Aditya Rao

    Hi Aditya .. We are out of genius ideas right now .. Would love to hear your feedback .. comments on the shortcomings … or challenges? :)

  • http://www.reachaditya.com Aditya Gupta

    I'm sure you cannot be out of genius ideas 'right now' else this wouldn't happen :) I'm not too sure bout how the Phase 4 would evolved when technology isn't independent anymore and dependent on human emotions and behavior :)

  • http://www.adityarao.name/ Aditya Rao

    We have to evolve our technology and sync it with human behaviour. Only then would the adoption of new technology happen seamlessly :)

  • http://www.reachaditya.com Aditya Gupta

    There comes the major shortcoming, humans aren't as easy they seem to deal with. Also, there hast to be something more concrete than anticipating and predicting. If you get that right, you're sold.

  • http://www.adityarao.name/ Aditya Rao

    you are right there :) Have you seen hunch.com
    Do have a look. New startup from Flickr founders.

  • http://www.reachaditya.com Aditya Gupta

    Just did, looks interesting. Thanks.

blog comments powered by Disqus