The Lovely Sensation of Being Outsmarted by Your Smartphone
Author: Hadar Shafir
The Curated Web
Nobody really surfs the web anymore. We use our mobile devices to skim through thoughts and references shared by our friends posted on social networks, we add apps that feed us the articles selected by subject matter experts, the books our circles like, the cultural events we need to know about, a sifted-through version of the news based on our interests and specifications, a grid of everything interesting based our current mobile location, a stream of events constantly moving with us wherever we go – we (represented by our faithful mobile devices) are the center of attention and we like it.
In its early days, the World Wide Web was envisioned as an ocean of data through which people surf, catching a wave that might lead them to new terrains, who knows where, embarking on a quest from one island and landing on a different shore. That’s not exactly how things turned out. We are not really surfing the web anymore, but using our mobile devices to access a closed set of entry points, hubs of knowledge, that automatically generate for us the environment that is just right for our preferences, bringing us all the information we want to consume, adjusting to our changing needs and interests. By ‘liking’ our friends, people of interest and commercial pages, we seamlessly generate a stream of data containing news flashes, culture, personal updates, commercial offerings, new tools and entertainment. By registering to different feeds we make sure the data we are interested in streams to our mobile devices. News reports on specific topics we are interested in reach us the minute they break, no matter where we are. We don’t have to go look for them – that’s taken care of.
This is not really surfing. It’s more like lying on the beach, on a daybed, with a cocktail. Oh, yeah, you have to push a button on your mobile once in a while. Hard work, isn’t it? It’s called the curated web, and you can play your own curator. What’s great about it is that you get to be a lazy curator, you don’t have to handpick every single piece in your exhibition – you simply lay out the path, and the content will find you. Your own personalized smart mobile web.
Of course we can’t ignore the fact that we are limiting our interaction with the web to the content we know we are interested in, and the content our personal beehive is humming about. What about all the things we don’t even know we’re interested in? Or the things our friends haven’t heard about? The possibility of missing out on something amazing is always there, in the long tail of content that was not highlighted by our curated stream, but the web is truly an ocean of data, with endless distractions, heaps of (let’s face it) waste and no land in sight. And within those distractions we take comfort in recommendations, but it’s more than just simple recommendations – the curated web with its self-improving data collection, learns our habits and improves itself, guessing us and offering new content we didn’t even realize was right for us. In that respect the curated web is way better than a search engine, where you actually need to know what you’re looking for.
Getting Things Done
In many respects the smart web is no longer a place for strolling, surfing or wandering aimlessly; it’s a place for getting things done. Your personalized mobile device has reincarnated into an executive summary of all the data and tools you need to get started with just about anything your daily tasks require. Combined with today’s powerful mobile devices, it has become a powerful machine driving us forward, constantly pointing us in the right direction, learning our preferences as we go in order to help us do more.
The same concept applies to the enterprise world where mobility is the new king. It’s evident that a mobile enterprise is no longer a question of if and when, but a modern necessity. Based on a recent Gartner analysis on the evolution of mobile context (“The Trends Driving Your Mobile Strategy Through 2015”, Nick Jones, Gartner), if 2009 was driven by Identity and Time as the key factors in mobile context, and 2011 was driven by Location and Social Networks, in 2015 Gartner predicts the key factors in mobility will be Habits, Needs and Behavior. Whether it’s the information you need in order to find the location of your next job or find the fastest way to get there in traffic, the best person in your organization to help you to solve a tricky technical problem, the details you need about the history of a customer just when you meet him, the closest favorite restaurant for lunch – that’s where our mobile enterprise apps will truly shine, by automatically identifying business behaviors and needs, automating sets of steps repeatedly performed by employees, making sure the entire enterprise is aligned to increase utilization and reduce human errors, connect between the right people within the organization, alleviating us from the most simple and mundane tasks a chimp could have performed, and simply make our lives at work easier and especially smarter by learning us and providing us with the right stream of data, our personalized curated work tools. Ready to be outsmarted by your smartphone?