We are overloaded with information.  During the course of my day I email, tweet, comment, post, chat, message, buzz, check in, call, sms, mms, bbm and sometimes (if I’m really lucky) actually talk to people.  We are moving towards an ever increasing flood of content (much of it automated) and it’s only gettin’ worse.  One day soon everything will tweet.

It’s not the the sheer quantity of information that’s the problem (faster flow of information will only help people achieve more), it’s how we send and receive it:

  • Sending: How do I send out information so that it reaches it’s intended audience only.  In the upcoming era of persistent, public online identity, how do I can still share my green-beer, toga party pictures with my friends and make sure potential clients don’t see it?  Additionally, I want to publicize my boring social media posts without spamming my friends who I know really, really don’t care.
  • Receiving: With all this content around how do I make sure that that important stuff gets to me FAST, while the stuff that matters stays buried (until I get really bored or have lots of time to look through it).

The idea that’s been bouncin’ around my head tries to address the second point… enter: sign.al.

I have a dream… that one day my phone will ring when my buddy is callin’ me up to go grab a beer, while calls from vodafone bill collectors stay silent.  That my blackberry will only flash in meetings only when really really important stuff happens (like the Mets scoring a winning run).  That one day, we’ll be able to ignore the tens, hundereds or thousands of messages that don’t matter, and focus our attentions on the ones that do. Here’s how sign.al would work

  • You give it all your account information (gmail, facebook, twitter, etc…)
  • It starts off like any aggregator (Seesmic for instance), showing you a timeline of emails, facebook messages, tweets, yadda yadda:

  • Aright, now’s where it starts getting cool… after a little while, it moves away from a timeline view, to a priority view.  It starts guessing knowing what you are most likely gonna want to read and respond to and starts moving those to the top.  This shift is already happening (FB news feed vs time line, Mozilla Raindrop, Xobni for Bberry)
  • Sign.al can know what’s important by:
    • Frequency – How regularly you read and respond to individuals
    • Speed – Of your read/response
    • Popularity – The number of comments, retweets, likes, and mentions
    • Proximity – Number of shared connections
    • Medium – @mentions more weightage the email cc’s?
    • Geolocation – Are messages from Mumbai and NYC more important to me?
    • Time of day – Are certain types of messages more important at a certain time?
    • Content – Am I more likely to be interested in content about the Jets regardless of where, when, how it’s getting to me? (yes)
    • Recency – Moving away from this but still a factor
  • Phase 2 – Phone app
    • Incorporating voice and SMS into the mix of content to prioritize
    • Different types of notifications instead of timeline: ring for an important sms, vibrate for a somewhat important @mention, silent for a newsletter.
  • Phase 3 – Setting status (implicitly?): In a meeting, driving, out to lunch, available – Based on this reduce/amplify notification methods.  If I’m sitting at the airport bored and normally my phone vibrates for an important tweet, now ring.
  • Phase 4 – Anticipate – Based on where I am, the type of message, who I’m connecting with, the medium, the format etc… start anticipating how I may respond to them (in a totally not creepy big brotherish way)

Ideas are a dime a dozen, execution’s what matters.  Take this idea, build it, I’ll use it and be happy (just be forewarned you need to legal operations in Albania to actually register the sign.al domain name :p ).

quick update: my buddy Aditya actually wants to make this happen… check out his blog for more info.

Related posts:

  1. The Transition to Real-Time, Social Search
  2. An Intro to Social Data Portability
  3. Google's Biggest Competitor isn't another Search Engine
  4. Slides from Social Media Training Sessions
  5. B2B Social Media Marketing