Sunday, April 24, 2011

Rating ubiquity

Ratings have long been used in product and service reviews (Amazon, Yelp, etc.), and are now being extended to other areas such as real-time customer service (Tello). There are many other areas where ratings could be helpful.

For example, it would be useful to have an event rating system, the usual simple quantitative stars (1-5 or 1-10 rating) plus rich tag (both adjective + noun) descriptors for meetups, conferences, lectures, etc. Yelp’s ‘Review Highlights’ is a nice start at trying to summarize salient qualitative descriptors.

Rating systems could proliferate to other contexts too, with tag clouds being ascribed to individuals and organizations. This could be a step in filling in the missing pieces of job-seeking or online dating; helping to get an idea of what is it actually like to spend time with a person or organization.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sage Commons Congress drives participatory medicine

The second Sage Commons Congress was held in San Francisco CA April 15-16, 2011. Conceptually an ‘open science,’ ‘data 2.0,’ ‘health 2.0,’ and ‘medicine 2.0’ event, the main purpose was for a variety of working groups to collaborate and outline goals for future work. The open science focal points for the group were data (aggregation, packaging, access, and usability) and public engagement. Of particular note was the launch of a new journal, Open Network Biology, which aims to facilitate experiment reproducibility through improved access to underlying data. The event is summarized here, and conference videos and presentations are available here.

The congress was an example of the growing activity in alternatives to the traditional conduct of health research and medicine, and important as an ongoing collaborative effort between many open health science initiatives. Alternative efforts could become a key partner in traditional health care delivery, particularly in realizing preventive medicine through measurement and intervention while conditions are still pre-clinical. Boutique physicians, health social networks, quantified self health tracking, patient-controlled health records, and patient-organized clinical trials could be important features in the near-term health landscape.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Personal principles of societal organization

In War and Peace and War: The Rise and Fall of Empire (2005), author Peter Turchin proposes a theory of history, that the rise and fall of empire can be explained by a society’s capacity for cooperation. Social capital as a prerequisite for society is further explored in other books.

The interesting point is what basis a society may have for generating social capital and cooperation. Historically, Turchin argues, societies self-defined and self-unified along meta-ethnic frontiers. In an enlightened society, presumably the definition of self/other based on ethnicity and geography recedes over time in favor of ideology. The new ideologies could be much more personal and granular than the wide-reaching religions, economic systems, and political doctrines unifying disparate peoples today.

A shift to group-identification by personal principles could be liberating at the individual level but potentially destabilizing at the societal level. One issue is optimal societal size: defense and administration suggest larger societies, but personal ideologies suggest smaller groups. Another issue is greater implicit dynamism: there are fewer natural barriers to entering and leaving groups, and at-will association would seem to be the norm. A third issue is potential conflicts between multiple associations, as a system inspired by Snow Crash franchulates with nation-states articulating value propositions to potential customers could develop.

At-will society: airsteading with the extropians over Williamsburg Brooklyn today and the immortalists in zero-G tomorrow

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Reliable access to an objective reality

Already people obtain their ‘news’ from a variety of sources, a mix of traditional media and new media, especially tweetstreams and blogs (for example from NPR’s Andy Carvin (“The Revolution will be Tweeted”)). This suggests that more different versions of reality are being created and perceived.

The issue of ‘what is objective reality’ and reliable access to it could become more important over time. Reality-confirmation tools could likely proliferate. One example is the contemplated arrival of thousands of privately-owed microcams descending to film any situation of interest and posting opensource footage or auctioning it to bidders (proposed by David Brin in Kiln People). Like blogs and phonecams, private microcams could further counter the influence and propagandizing of media, and provide a more reliable confirmation of reality.

In the longer term, individuals may have a more explicit ability to manage the realities they access. Different realities could be shared at different times per volition and convenience (an extension of Nancy Kress’s shared reality concept in the Probability Trilogy).