When Tweets Start to Tweet

We’re fast approaching a time when it becomes possible to connect everything and everyone to the internet. A web of connected documents and sites, of devices, of machines, of networks. A place where everything is connected to everything.

We’re fast approaching a time when it becomes possible to connect everyone to everyone.    Affordable, ubiquitous, on-when-you-want compute power, communications capability and storage will soon be in everyone’s hands. Literally. And not just in their hands. On their wrists. In front of their eyes. As part of their clothes. Everywhere. In everything.

We’re fast approaching a time when everything’s connected. The Internet of Everything. This goes well beyond people and devices and documents and machines. It’s about a time when every car park in your town tweets the number of spaces available. A time when you can subscribe to the article you’re reading, and be alerted if there are changes or additions.

A time when tweets start to tweet. When a tweet tells you “Hey it’s been three hours and you still haven’t read me, even though four of your friends have asked you to”.

When everything is a node on the network, everything can share information about its state. Everyone and everything will be able to “publish” and to “subscribe”.

That’s a lot of noise from which to extract any sort of signal. So, as Clay Shirky reminds us, it becomes important to have the right filters.

So our friends, the people who know us well, will operate as filters, ensuring that we get to see and hear what they know to be important or valuable to us. Social becomes a filter.

Our mobile devices and cloud services already come with ways to manage our notifications. We decide when, where and how we receive messages and alerts; in that sense, notification centres are filtration points.

Many of these alerts and messages are meaningful only when they are presented with context. The metadata of time, location, source, identity of person, identity of device all become important, and we can use that metadata to filter further. Additionally, the status messages themselves contain valuable information, which can be compared against predetermined thresholds.

This process of looking at the data and metadata, comparing them against lists and thresholds before agreeing disposition, this is what tools like IFTTT set out to do. We are going to see much more of this, as notification exchanges and clearinghouses emerge around platforms. People will build services that use platform APIs to test levels and contexts via the data, metadata and thresholds. The ecosystems that emerge around the platforms will also form part of the filtering process.

The social networks we belong to, the communities represented, the devices used, the platforms and ecosystems they form part of, each of these is a revolution in its own right. And all these are necessary but not sufficient to deal with yet another revolution, the explosion of Big Data.

All revolutions. All necessary. And all not sufficient.

The most important revolution taking place is about the customer, in terms of transfer of power, level of participation and proactive nature. And this is a revolution of trust, and about the framework of trust that is identity.

Soon everything will be connected, everyone will be connected. Soon everything will be a node on the network, able to publish, able to subscribe.

We can now “quantify” ourselves: the services and devices available now allow us to measure much about ourselves as individuals. We are able to measure our health and well being in ways we could never do before.

It’s not just about quantified selves, we can apply the same techniques at work, the quantified firm. We’re able to see correlations and patterns we just could not see earlier, and to do something with those insights. Insights about our products and processes, and more importantly, insights about our customers, what they want, what they like, what they don’t like.

It goes beyond that. We can gather collective intelligence, start seeing patterns at much larger levels, in communities, geographies, even globally. Every one of us becomes a sensor and a participant in that process, collecting information both actively as well as passively, and making that information available for aggregation and analysis.

All this is brought about by a series of revolutions, revolutions that help us separate the signal from the noise, filter the facts from the firehose. Revolutions in how we connect, who we connect with, when and where we connect, what we connect to. Revolutions in how we connect.

We may have an Internet of everything, changing all that we can see and hear and experience.  But some things don’t change. Everything we do is about people; about relationships between people. And about the trust that binds us together.

The Internet of everything is not a technological revolution. It’s a trust revolution.

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