A provider cannot deliver a continuity of experience greater than the continuity of experience the provider has internally.
With the coming storm of platforms that allow for the Rich Internet Apps, James Governor cites a response from Gabor Vida of Teknision:
â€œApplications need to realize that there is a shift in the conversation when a user moves from web site to desktop and celebrate it. Applications need to focus on the transition users make when they move from consumer to creator and build experiences around it.â€
How about thinking about it in terms of increased continuity of experience. The barriers a user faces when trying to create a continuity of experience are what constitute the fundamental problem with the “applications” today.
There are explicit barriers to delivering or enabling users to increase their continuity of experience. Some of those barriers are:
- Rigid metaphors like “Rich client”, Desktop, and web site.
- Physical barriers like laptop, phone, location, network access
- Corporate barriers like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Cingular, Verizon ect.. (to many to list)
I think the key is to envelop the users with opportunities to consume and create their own continuities of experience. That requires companies and developers to think about how, where and when in more depth and ensure that the what and why are consistent and compelling. We are chained to computers, phones, televisions, cars, and ipods, all limiting our ability to develop continuity of experience.
In recent years Google has sought to remove those barriers in very focused ways. They have done this by trying to expend their contextual advertising to other channels and more web sites are integrating with cell phones. Sites like twitter are working to make “online conversation” more ubiquitous.
We will always be consumers and at the same time creators of continuity of experience.
We are heading into some interesting times.
I have since I was a young boy been fascinated with building architecture. That interest was the foundation of my passion for architecture as it applies to information technology. Being the son of a carpenter gave me plenty of opportunities to see how buildings are built and evolved. I have taken that perspective and applied it to my work in information systems architecture. So as I was rereading How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand, I was struck by a most profound quote
A building is not something finished. A building is something you start.
In information centric economies, value is a function of trust. The role of the honest broker is to provide a well understood and transparent point of reputation for attention and gesture information. The information economy we see growing around links and clicks is driven by the reputation of a few silos in the economy. Google, eBay, Yahoo and Microsoft are major reputation providers in the link/click economy. I would never call any of these parties honest brokers, though some are closer to honest broker than others. These reputation providers are by no means neutral and each defends their reputation silo fiercely from competition. That defense can make the reputation less accurate as it is never clear where the interests of the provider end.
In the Attention Gesture information economy an honest Broker is required to facilitate the exchange of and valuation of information. Similar to financial scores, the honest broker provides the unadulterated reputation of an attention/gesture provider allowing the attention/gesture consumer to value the information and then provide the attention provider with some sort of value. The honest broker never has a hand in determining the value of the transaction, but by ensuring that reputation of the provider and consumer are well known to both parties it ensures that each party can trust the valuation. The honest broker provides reputation for both attention/gesture providers and consumers, allowing both parties to identify the value of the attention data.
This honest broker service might be free as part of a network collaboration or it may be a fee for service model similar to credit card industry. Regardless, an honest broker is required to defend the attention/gesture pools from fraud and hijack. The honest broker will become a mechanism for maintaining experience continuity across a long running set of interconnected actions and exchanges, in a life connected.
As we move from an attention economy to a situational awareness economy honest brokers will be woven into the fabric of our online cognitive models.
I have been thinking about how companies build systems. In my experience the companies focus on the things like business continuity and leave for last (if they are lucky) experience continuity. The systems are reliable, transactional, scalable and redundant but yet from the outside the system seems a bit off. The systems are build to reflect the desires of the company and in many cases the customer perspective is the lip stick on the pig. In the end who cares if the system is sound and provides for business continuity, if it fails to provide experience continuity. Doing the wrong thing the right way is still doing the wrong thing. Experience continuity is the starting point and the rest will take care of it self.
As I think more about the economics of Attention I am struck by the silos. Everyday of my life my attention is disrupted by the constant silo switching. I spend 2 to 2.5 hours per day driving to my place of employment. Today, that time is better spent thanks to my self programmed iPod. There exists a huge problem maintaining the flow of information into and out of my commute silo. I have to spend time to deliver information into that silo and its a pain in the neck, sync, plug in, navigate, unplug, plug in navigate, and unplug every day. So here is what I think would be nice.
In the evening as I review my schedule for the next day, iTunes detects my car as a device on my wireless network. iTunes updates my car with the content I have added and allows me to program my drive to work with content. My calendar also detects my car as a device on my wireless network (or as a client via EVDO, a nod to Steve Gillmor) my temporal data gets downloaded and is used to prime my navigation system. The car then could make suggestions regarding when and where to get gas based on price, route changes based on live traffic data, and provide access to my voice mail. The opportunities are all over the place. Why can’t I sync my contacts in Google or yahoo bidirectionally with my cell phone.
Creating attention efficiencies for people in their daily lives is just obvious. Jon Udell writes about the broader value of attention efficiency and effectiveness . Technology has consistently increased the productivity of the individual within the context of a specific task. How about life productivity, how about increasing the continuity of experience of my life, I would be willing to pay for that. In the end, all the players (companies, customers ect..) will have to focus on collaboration, continuity of experience and increased situational awareness.
 Attention economics: by Jon Udell
In the past I have listed the things that build a continuity of experience but I have not given a Formal (read Dictionary) definition. So here it goes:
conÂ·tiÂ·nuÂ·iÂ·ty of exÂ·peÂ·riÂ·ence
a coherent whole understanding of an object, thought, or emotion through the senses or mind.
Via American Heritage dictionary
I have put together a screen cast of web sites that are moving to increase the continuity of experience for their users. As the web continues to mature, the lines between local applications and web applications are going to slowly disappear. Companies Like Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and others are making it clear that web applications are no longer going to be the lesser cousin to desktop applications. Enjoy.
The Continuity of Experience is:
About making the experience more ubiquitous.
About making the experience more consistent.
About making the experience more understandable.
About making the experience more actionable.
About making the collection of our experiences more contiguous.
This web 2.0 thing is just one of the more visible increases in our computing Continuity of Experience. Its all about increased simplicity, integrated metaphors, greater collaboration, transparency and increased information composition. The goal is to make it easier for people to interact with the universe of computing platforms, applications, services and information. Increasing the Continuity of Experience for one user or 10,000 or 10 million (think companies) increases the capacity to transfer value during the experience. We need to think about the continuities we enjoy today and really focus on what opportunities we have to bring isolated experiences into a larger continuity of experience.