PSFK Salon: Future of Real Time
Last Friday I essentially had my mind blown away from 9am to 9pm. In the morning I attended the PSFK Salon: Future of Real Time, afternoon took a Rorschach test for my friend's psychology class, and evening attended a screening of The Last Lions. Post on my evening to come but first I'll address the salon at the Soho House. To simplify, the salon discussed what the implications are of data created in real time; i.e. through mobile applications, GPS, status updates, instant photographs and video. Like a Twitter feed in 2011, there was a lot of information to take in within the one hour presentation. Their presentation is available online and breaks the topics down more thoroughly but here's what I took away: Implications of real time data for psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists and planners who study human behavior:
Sites like OkCupid collect data on dating preferences, behavior, dynamics between men and women etc. leading to a data-driven, better understanding of what influences our dating choices - among other insights.
Facebook, Twitter and a new British site, Mappiness, collect data on people's general state of being, monitoring social sentiment. Wouldn't it be nice to discover how a population feels at any given point in time and what influences these feelings without having to do a labor intensive survey? And there's Voyurl, which allows you to view the actual behavior of people on the web, understanding what websites interest them. Users can discover the most popular sites and content they never thought to look for without user generated, deliberate recommendations.
Implications of real time data for marketers and advertisers:
Marketers and advertisers can take all the above data and use it to better market their products. Fast Society creates a temporary network allowing groups to communicate via text, voice and share their location. Marketers can take advantage of Fast Society, connecting their product to an event or location. Twitcritic is a service that monitors the online buzz of movies. The service has a track record of predicting box office success. Essentially, the "like" or positive sentiments has become a new form of currency, creating a stronger connection between the consumer and brand. Before social media, all an advertiser had to do was sell a product. With the advent of the Like button, spread of information and consumer advocates, it is absolutely essential that a product stay true to their message and maintain the trust of their consumer. That sounds like progress to me!
The implications for real time data in the physical world:
Services like Harassmap allow users to anonymously report physical locations of where they were harassed in the world. Instant Mapping is a local tool that allows users to create a shared, visual experience of their environment. Viz Center creates a shared visual experience for disaster response teams, allowing for more efficiency in disaster response. SF Park is a sensor installed into San Francisco parking spaces and an iPhone app that reveals when spaces are empty, enabling users to find parking more efficiently and prevent traffic as long as their not too absorbed looking at the app while driving.
Finally, during the question and answer section, a passionate debate ensued about the implications of all this real time data being public. Andrew Hoppin, the former CIO of the New York Senate advocated making most of the government data public in the hopes that it will facilitate a conversation that will improve our society as a whole or give businesses the information to better serve their community. Services like New York's 311, is a step in the right direction, collecting data from their call center and sharing it with the public on open311.org. But governments need to be more transparent and make data easy to digest. While there is an obvious push from consumers for marketers to be transparent, governments are not held to the same standards. It seems we hold more power as consumers than as citizens but hopefully that will change with more government transparency. Adam Leibsohn from voyURL touched on the practice of corporations using our data for their gain, saying it was okay they did this, as long as they were transparent. I strongly agree with his statement. I value honesty, transparency and an attempt at understanding as a means to solve most problems and think that if a marketer wants to use my information to sell me a product that I want, then the more power to them, especially if they are improving my life.
(Polymaps: site that allows you to overlay data onto different maps)
So what did I learn from all this? In 2006, Time marked "You" as the person of the year, implying a shift that the individual and collective have control, a shift from corporations and the government. Taking this idea further - I believe our collective data will be the driving force behind government changes, cultural shifts and marketing in the years to come. Because Information is beautiful.