More thoughts by Brian Suda
Will big data eat itself? Big data has been the buzz word for a while now. I wonder at what point the term will become so overloaded it will collapse on itself? Maybe that process has started already. Big is relative, both in the size of the data, the size of your operations and the size of your tools. I’ll know the term is empty the day I go through the line at the grocery store and the checkout person swipes my loyalty card and mentions big data. “The Cloud” was so 2012, I fear for what the term of 2013 will be.
I work a lot with data, data mining, network diagrams and visualisations. One day it struck me as I watched someone in Central London get onto a bus with their luggage, this is a massive network of loosely joined pieces. The bus company runs what is best for them, the airport runs what works for them, taxi services fill holes where it is too far to walk. All these tiny services all pieced together create a vast network which covers just about ever square meter of this globe. Those London busses are on a constant move, looping around like little ants following a trail, sometimes one right after the other. To see a person get on a bus with a suitcase would seem like a strange event by itself, but in my head I knew that bus would get her one step closer to her destination. It might be 2-3 more busses, trains, tubes or taxis to get to that airport, but society has created a massive, unstructured, organic transport network that any citizen can take advantage of. What does our future hold as we make the jump from loosely joined physical transportation networks, to more loosely joined digital ones?
Everyone keeps raving about interfaces where you wave your hands around all Minority Report style. I wonder if we go down the road where that is the only way to interact with the system, we’ll have a limiting factor of who can actually use the system. If you don’t have 2 arms, 2 legs and 10 fingers and toes, the system might not work for you. At the moment, accessibility can be achieved through other devices. If a mouse is too hard to use, then keyboard support would suffice, or aural input and output. How come you never seen someone in the future in a wheelchair using these crazy new kinaesthetic interfaces?
There is a wealth of data locked up because existing government organisations are too scared to give it away or their previous business model revolved around the scarcity of the data. Mapping and GPS are prefect examples of information that once set free, multi-billion dollar business have sprung-up. The US is pretty liberal in what they give away after it has been created with tax payers’ money. Other countries are not as lucky. If you look at software to compute travel distances, route planning, address to lat/lon look-ups, these work much better in the US than in Europe and other countries. It isn’t for lack to talent or skills, but for the lack of open data.
I hate gamification. Gamification is unethical, exploitative and counter-productive. Alfie Kohn has written a great book called Punished by Rewards which outlines why extrinsic rewards can ruin the values you are trying to promote by devaluing them to points, stars, coins or credits. If you are thinking about adding gamification to your product, you should really, really consider the consequences. You might get a short-term boost, but any long-term value is lost. These are very important aspects to consider as you are either trying to extract the most money or work out of a player before they quit or trying to build up a community of dedicated fans for a lifetime. Slapping badges on things seems to be what everyone is doing, with detrimental affects. I implore you to think about how this will affect your community and fans.
Here are the dates of Brian Suda's future thoughts
- Tuesday, 4 June
- Thursday, 4 July
- Wednesday, 4 September
- Friday, 4 October
- Monday, 4 November
- Wednesday, 4 December