Steve Grossman

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Information in the information age

The problem as I see it

In his post An Important Conversation About Conversations | chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan asks for input about what “you (in this case, “you” equals me and you and everyone when we’re on the “customer” side of the wall) want from interactions like blog posts and the like.”

Chris is a thought leader and expert in the Social Media space and he never ceases to bring insightful ideas and questions about this evolving area of marketing. This question is no exception and I appreciate the discussion he’s starting. That’s his specialty.

What jumps out to me though, is the word interactions and my immediate thought is “what interactions?”

With the possible exception of twitter, specifically @comcastcares, BankofAmerica and others that have nailed it, I can’t classify my experience online as interactive. I’ve had some conversations and rare moments of interactions, but on the whole, I have not been able to truly interact to the level I desire and the reason is tools. Or lack there of.

Take blog posts for instance. They’re only interactive if I a) come back all the time to see where the conversation is or b) subscribe to the comments feed (another option is to get e-mail updates). But I don’t have time for either one. Add in the fact that I often follow links to sites I’ve never been to before (isn’t that the point?) and I end up leaving a comment and never knowing what transpires next.

And blogs are just one example. Social Networks are even worse and news sites are the worst.

There are two fundamental problems with the current state of affairs online. Problems that will continue to keep the internet from it’s full potential.

The first is the fact that the current explosion is being driven by geeks: people that have a lot of time on their hands and are completely and hypnotizingly fascinated with all things web. I’m ALMOST one of those people except for the fact that I’m not. I’m a middle aged, businessman who loves learning and information.

Yes I’m fascinated by the web, but only so far as it actually helps me get things done – quickly and efficiently. Visiting 100’s of blogs can’t be done realistically if I’m to keep my job and stay married. Yes, I know what an RSS feed is and I use one to track the blogs I regularly read everyday. But that doesn’t help with the aforementioned linking and commenting on sites and the resultant tracking that I don’t have time to do. And oh, did I mention a lot of comments are useless?

Which leads to the second problem: we do not yet have the tools for true web interactions. We need tools that notify us when the interactions are actually of interest to us. Our comment, our topic, our…well…tags.

So what if we had an online identity that was truly an online identity? One that, just like in real life, had attributes, characteristics and traits – the very things that make us us? And what if everywhere we went and everything we did left these attributes too?

If that were the case, these attributes could also facilitate notifications when something relevant to us occured online. Anywhere. Anytime.

Which would mean that after leaving a comment on Chris Brogan’s blog saying “loved the post, but think it misses the point that we don’t have sophisticated enough tools yet” I would automatically get a message in my online hub (e-mail, IM, txt, whatever) anytime a relevant comment was posted.

Now THAT would be cool.

And it totally relates to Chris’s question too because these tools would allow for life changing interactions with companies. I’m not being overly dramatic either. What would life be like without the need for customer support because I would simply “get” the info I needed when it became available. Nothing less. But also, nothing more.

And I know that day is coming.

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Filed under: Life_technology, Social_media, Trends

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