The Cloud is Watching You

It’s obvious if you think about it, but this article drives some points home. If you use some kind of web service to read, listen, watch, charge, use, borrow or share stuff, that company not only knows what you’ve (read, listened to, etc.) They also know much more specifically how you did so: Did you stick with it to the end, did you do it from a particular place, at a particular time? Did you do it in one sitting or over a day or a week or a month?

If you then combine such observation across a farily large group of peope you can learn amazing things. Like how many people finish your book, or how far through it they get before abandoning it. Do they listen to the whole song? At what episode of a series do people abandon it? A little scary as the ‘art’ we ‘consume’ gradually morphs into the ‘art’ we ‘like’.

Not only will be be offered to buy new products that we are likely to buy, but the products themselves will be designed in a way that we will like them. Or the art will be created in such a way that we will want to experience it. 

Good or bad?

As New Services Track Habits, the E-Books Are Reading You – NYTimes.com:

Scribd is just beginning to analyze the data from its subscribers. Some general insights: The longer a mystery novel is, the more likely readers are to jump to the end to see who done it. People are more likely to finish biographies than business titles, but a chapter of a yoga book is all they need. They speed through romances faster than religious titles, and erotica fastest of all.

 

[EDUCATION] Sign of change in the universe

I would love to see this trend accelerate:

“The five-year-old [Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship] program, [Wake Forest University’s]  most popular minor, requires students to learn the practical aspects of starting a business. It is a sign of change in liberal-arts colleges, which are grappling with the responsibility of preparing students for a tight and rapidly shifting job market while still providing the staples of academic inquiry.” (from Wall Street Journal)

This is really important in my opinion, and it’s a big part of what we cover in the course I am co-teaching at Brandeis this year, “Web and Social Apps”. The course starts next week and runs for 10 weeks, practically full time. During that course students go through the whole cycle of conceiving a product, designing, implementing and deploying it to the world. It’s an exciting experience. Fairly exhausting for everyone involved, but worth it.

I wish all college students, especially in my field, Computer Science, were thought learn theory and critical thinking, but also got exposed (and were even required) to learn what I like to call “critical doing”. Working in teams, inventing and creating things that others could benefit of, could touch and feel, and could have an impact in the real world. 

The truth is that in many Universities, this is not a priority today, but there is signs that the students and parents (the customers after all) are demanding this. Change is slow, but it is coming.