New valuations for big data on and around The Next Web

Last week I visited The Next Web conference. As the conference aim to look to the coming trends in Internet and tries to show the best of Internet start-ups from Europe, it is interesting to see what the general feeling is after the conference. It is however not that clear to say. But there is a connection to some broader developments of the last month, where we see an increase of the awareness that the new data driven context will have serious impact on our life.

Last year at TNW 2010, I presented our vision on the way online services will be built on the realtime context in a new web of impulses. We see that this high level feeling back than is coming to age now, and is coming back in different aspects. So we see in the talk of Steve Rubel how the context and especially timing of communicating is essential for the success of the impact.

Steve states that in the constant increase of new information streams in an infinite digital space, the limitations are with humans. We don’t scale as much as the digital space does. That is the basis for the attentionomics, the new system where value is generated around attention. An example is the Edgerank that Facebook uses to filter your newsfeed. The pagerank of Google filtered the web of information, Facebook filters the streams of attention. Time is critical in the attentionomics. It turns out that the impact correlates strongly with the moment it is send.

Steve promotes three steps to handle the attentionomics.
Step one. Hand craft your content for each embassy. Networks are not homogeneous.
Step two. Activate expert employees as thought leaders. We are entering the era of validation of friends as the experts for filtering.
Step three: tightly integrate owned and social assets. Social is not a channel, it is behavior

And be sure to take in account:
One: mindfulness through bifocal awareness. Build awareness of the world around you
Two: optimize for the best time of day. Mining builds mindfulness, and time is critical
Three: plan, test and measure

So, filtering with trust is essential. Friends are important, but we see more and more the filter algorithms define what we see. That is something Eli Pariser talks about in his new book on the Filter Bubble as he call it. In a TEDtalk that came online this week he shows what the algorithm curated web can lead to; a web of one. I highly agree on his thoughts that we will see a erosion of value if all content is presented through a relevance filter. We can be disconnected also with these rise of algorithm experiences as Kevin Slavin showed us earlier.

You can say that the filter bubble challenges the advices of both talks of Mark Randal and Howard Lindzon that put failure in the middle of a road to success. Failure is a much better conversation piece, Randal says. For the first time we have a near future that is fully unpredictable because of the velocity of changes. Prepare for flexibility.
Lindzon fired a pile of inspiring onliners how to use a strategy of learning on failures. Know the macro and execute on the micro, tomorrow will be the same as today, be prepared for anything else. Check out his list of philosophies.

The talk of Tammy Camp can be summarized in her statement: fantasy is selfish, dreams have purpose. Or in my translation: fantasies can never become reality, dreams can come true. Something of course that gives context to the startup rally The Next Web is too. We see in the startup presentations also some of these topics pass by. A bunch claims literally to be inspired by the famous thoughts of Clay Shirky: the real problem is not information overload, it is filter failure. Silkapp tries to bring back the structure in content and Wosju tries to bridge the online and offline networks to create more trusted relations.
Others add new data to the profiles for filtering in line with the quantified self movement. Foodzy let you track your food consumption stimulated by social playfulness.

It is interesting to see how there seems to be a shift in the acceptance of the use of our personal data. People start to understand what can happen with their data. Like the buzz on the tracking of your iPhone data, and the way Sony looses privacy data. The last speaker on the The Next Web – Pablos Holman – shows what a hacker can accomplish to manipulate your profile. With the example of him hacking the hotel tv system and let you watch completely different content.

The way Holman showed how big data can be collected by everyone is also subject of a lot of the contributions in the hackaton that were presented at the first day of The Next Web. The challenge the organisation gave – who is the most bad ass user of the API’s – was not for nothing won by Emailtox, that shows how easy you connect a face to an e-mail address.

So The Next Web conference rode on the waves of the current discussions of the gathering and use of big data in our everyday perception of online experiences. A topic that just started to come to surface.

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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