Social gyroscopes, contextual discoverability and semantic serendipity
The future is about me. It is about who I am, who I associate with, what I want, what I will pay for and for what I expect to be paid.
Who am I? I am many things. I am an employee of GroupM, I am a son, I am a father, albeit not in a biological sense, to a 15 year old boy and a four year old dog. I am a boyfriend, in the biological sense, I am a nephew, an uncle, a godfather, a Met Fan, in the nonsensical sense, a book collector, a business traveler, a diner, a cook, a committee member, and a friend to many including to some of the people in this room including all the judges.
My life , like yours, is a tale of connection and intersection, with a constantly changing focus, variable priorities and urgency. Sometimes some things matter for a moment, sometimes for a while and sometimes for ever. The same, like it or not, is true of people.
My digital life equalizes relationships and roles in a way that I find useful sometimes and unacceptable at other times. Technology has created an equality of access that is dissonant with the underlying reality of my life. To that end I require a social gyroscope that orientates my connections and gathers my contacts relative to one another and relative to who I am at any given moment.
My expectation is that my Outlook contacts, my Facebook friends, my Linkedin connections and my cell phone address book will orientate themselves to circumstance, that is to say when I am talking to my mum my near field contacts will be my niece, my sister and my therapist. When I am talking to my boss, my near field contacts will be my peers, my clients and my employment attorney. Ultimately all these platforms will intersect, cross inform or just amalgamate and be accessed by my biometric password. Simple.
It’s a short step from the social gyroscope to contextual discovery and the new relationship between me and brand marketers. Today I have limited control, I am someone else’s target audience based on assorted hard and soft insights into my attitudes and behaviors. In an addressable world I want something different and I want something more. I am not a rejector of advertising and a not a privacy hawk but I have my price. Free access to content is part of that price but I want to be communicated with politely and relevantly and demand the right to stop you talking to me. I want a ‘do not advertise’ tag on every ad that allows me to block a brand or corporation at will with the choice of ‘not here, not now or not ever’. Put simply I want the option to find out less as well as find out more.
In giving me this choice the bar for brands and businesses to address me relevantly and creatively goes up and in the end the benefit is shared. They don’t waste money on the uninterested, I don’t waste time on the uninteresting.
‘Ah yes’ you say but how do you know what you don’t know? How can you be so prescriptive as you will never know what you are missing. A fair point and one that requires the development of a semantic serendipity engine.
Semantic serendipity demands inference technology to be used by content companies and advertisers that observe my behavior and understand what to put in my peripheral field of vision. Like anything else in the peripheral zone it is not guaranteed my attention but by being discoverable, gyroscopically and contextually we give each other a chance.