Friday, August 20, 2010

Facebook Places and the Platform race

Facebook announcement of Places service is an important event in the Platform race. Facebook could have partnered with Foursquare or some other geospatial player(s) . Instead, Facebook is going for leverage strategy, aiming to build and control its own "wide platform".

Possible strategic response for Foursquare,  threatened by Facebook ambitions and lock of the "wider platform", is to integrate with a new,  "open" social platform such as Diaspora.  It would be a mistake for Foursquare to try to build its own social platform, unless they make it "open" and convince other major players like Zynga to integrate with it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My vision of the User Platform

In this post, I will communicate my vision of the User Platform.

The Platform is a future Internet user-centered semantic web service, around which the ecosystem of information space services is built. The information space is comprised of web, media, real life, augmented reality, and all other media in which humans, nature, and machines interact.

The Platform has five integrated components – User Platform, Groups Platform, Things Platform, Services Platform, and Content Platform.  

Picture 1. User Platform 

I will call the core service of the User Platform, servicing a specific user, a Platform Cell. It is indicated as the blue circle in the diagram. The Platform Cell is a human’s second brain in the information space that always works and never sleeps. The Platform makes sense of what is happening with the user and around the user, in real time. The User Platform creates user-related knowledge and uses that knowledge to communicate with the ecosystem of information space services.  Each instance of the Platform Cell:

- Monitors infospace activity by user and related to user using semantic methods
- Monitors user’s real life location, health state, activity, safety, and connectedness (“presentity” in IETF language)   
- Uses AI to analyze these data to produce meaning
- Negotiates terms and conditions of using services on user behalf, manages micro-payments and other value exchanges  
- Initiates, manages, and terminates services as requested by the user or by the Platform Cell on user behalf   
- Provides appropriate level of user information and knowledge to the services
- Provides services with communication and synchronization across access devices (PCs, mobile phones, PDAs, TV sets, cars, body implants, smart homes, and many others).
- Interacts with relevant Group Platform Cells and Things Platform Cells   
- Supports proactive search for new opportunities – services, content, people, groups, and things
- Proactively protects user security, protects privacy, and manages aliases. Cooperates with specialized security and privacy services.
- Manages direct Cell to Cell (C2C) communications

The Platform will enable macro services that generate value across different Cells. The platform can serve as powerful commerce and marketing tool, generating customer alliances and target groups.  The Platform can leverage knowledge of users with similar interests to generate opportunities for individuals. My vision is that this aggregated data is not generated by direct access to the user data – rather, it is an outcome of negotiation among Platform Cells and macro services, fully taking into consideration implicit and explicit user preferences in terms of security and privacy.

A group of core service that I call a Wide Platform, is built immediately around the Platform Cell. Those services, such as the universal search, social networks, medical services, free agent platform, media content delivery services, form a wider platform around the user.  A rich ecosystem of third-party and 4-party services forms around this wider platform.

Wide Platform services now become much “smarter”. They need less personal involvement by user, can understand and anticipate her needs better. I whole new ecosystem of free agent services will develop around free agent platform, which is the part of the Wide Platform.

Universal search will benefit from understanding of user context and background. Social networks will take into consideration user context to provide just the right amount of relevant information. Medical services will monitor user health and inform the health care providers about possible health problems. Media content will rely on micro-negotiations and micro-payments to smoothly deliver highly relevant news and entertainment to viewers.

In later posts, I will address several important considerations. My vision of the Platform is that it will be designed to serve the user’s and groups’ interest. Alternative designs, putting corporate or government interest in front are possible. The Platform may be designed by business, free and open software group, or government – or some combination of those. I will also discuss whether technologically the data in the Platform should be stored centrally, locally, or distributed across the Web.

I will illustrate how the Platform architecture works below.

One day in life of Bridget, 25 years old professional working for a multinational company in San-Francisco.  


5:00     Platform Cell learns from Bridget’s car GPS service that due to car accident, a 30 minute delay on the route to work is expected. Platform Cell knows that Bridget has a meeting in the office at 9:00, so it adjusts the alarm clock and instructs the coffee machine accordingly. It also renegotiates Bridget\s car pull arrangement.

7:30     Bridget is watching the news over breakfast. The Internet TV company negotiated with the Media Service and Platform Cell what news are interesting for Bridget, and also agreed what relevant ads to show. Platform Cell agreed to pay $3 for premium news and received $4 for showing the ads via Micro Payment Service.  Meanwhile, Bridget is not bothered about these details; all she views is the customized news and ads.

7:50    The Platform Cell starts Bridget’s car and instructs it to turn on the heating – it learned from the home weather station that it’s a cold day outside.

8:00    Bridget is driving to work. Platform Cell requests the car radio to read an urgent email message relevant to 9:00 meeting.

9:05     Bridget is in the meeting, getting introductions to a team group of foreign partners. Her mobile phone tags names and business cards to faces and asks Platform Cell to find relevant information on the meting participants. Platform Cell reminds Bridget, via mobile phone, that she briefly met one of the participants 2 years ago. Platform also informs her that, despite his seemingly low formal position, he appears to be a key decision maker in this group. 

10:30  Bridget is checking her emails – The Platform Cell already helped the email service sort the emails. It has already answered to some routine requests on Bridget’s behalf. The Platform Cell worked with Advanced Email Service to highlight important business opportunities, urgent issues, and potential risks. Each email links to several key issues

11:00   Bridget is searching the web for additional information on new technology mentioned in today’s meeting. Platform Cell helps the search service get the most relevant results. It also contacts Bridget’s colleague’s Platform Cells and learns that one of the colleagues is an expert on this technology.

12:00   Bridget hits the gym for a half-hour training. Fitness Service learned from Platfom Cell that Bridget had a tennis match yesterday and woke up earlier than normal today, so it proposes a lighter exercise program.

12:40   As Bridget takes the elevator to the cafeteria, she orders her meals on her mobile phone. Her Diet Service works with Platfrom Cell to make the best selection.

14:40   Platform Cell notices suspicious activity with Bridget’s credit card – it was used to purchase jewelry in a store where Bridget can’t be at that moment. Platform Cell immediately requests Bridget’s bank to block the credit card and cancels the transaction. It also files report with police.   

16:00   Platform Cell, working with Universal Search Service, found a new professional blog that would be of interest to Bridget. It added the blog to the “follow” list.  

19:00  Bridget is at shopping mall. As she wonders about, Platform Cell is reviewing the sales offer she is receiving from the stores, negotiates the discounts, and sends a few interesting once to her mobile. Platform Cell knows that Bridget is in the market for a new tennis racket, so it cooperated globally with other shoppers to get a nice offer. Platfrom Cell also learns from Geospatial Service that a few friends are also in the shopping mall, so the Platform Cell shows their location on the store map in the mobile phone.

21:30   Bridget is driving home. Platform Cell helps the car radio choose music that best fits Bridget’s mood for the day.