miércoles, 19 de noviembre de 2008

Rage against the machine

One of the issues most discussed in the last ITS Rome conference was what is a reasonable use of broadband. The concern arise from heavy users activity, which in another example of Long Tail takes most of Telcos resources for downloading huge files.

I´d like to raise another similar issue, which I´d like to call reasonable customer service. Two weeks ago my ISP broadband speed went down for a factor of 100 in the last month, from an average of 50 kbps to less than 1kbps. Two orders of magnitude is too much -a simple Gmail web page would take about 2 minutes, so I feel back in Dial-up years-. Whenever I rise this issue to Arnet, my broadband provider, the answer would be "have you changed something?"or "Is your modem the one that we gave you"? or "Probably your PC have a virus". There is no way they could send me a person to check the whole thing -in spite I am one of these strange persons willing to pay-. Experience, on the other hand, shows me if the failure is that sudden, the Telco may have a problem. My two cents on this: plot the monthly broadband churn against telephone switches. You´ll be surprised.

So I understand that in some countries heavy users activities are being reviewed; but I´d like a similar approach from ISPs Customer Service. Don´t blame customers, treat them well, consider the ARPU you´re getting.... and that Data Services are not compatible with some answers and with Dial-up speeds.

martes, 11 de noviembre de 2008

Reverse search, magic and names

One of the main ideas we have came across many times in Snark Consulting is this: human brain connect ideas very much in the same way web links do. Roughly speaking we think by jumping between very different ideas, pretty much hypertext is structured. Example? A joke is a superlative jump of faith across several contexts.

Let´s go one step beyond. We like to master Google searches. We feel “at ease” with the web if we find what we are looking for in a couple of seconds. Strangely we find the right content (text, images, you name it) only if we can provide an approximate text of what we are seeking; believe it or not, this has to do with Magic. From Tolkien´s Gandalf to JK Rowling´s Potter, the power is hidden under the name of the spell, or under the precise name of the thing itself. So in the Web you find something in two secs only if you are pretty aware of the exact string and the context of what you´re looking for.

I think the next big thing would be a reverse search, where you could “enter” a first glimpse of the desired information -by singing a small piece of a song, by drawing a sketch, or even by sending a pic-. The output would be the desired mp3 song, a complete graph of the desired effect, or the name of the person we´re looking for. That certainly would be magic! But wait, for many consequences may arise: information much more tagged (who would do this? who would certifiy or approve?), security concern about my personal information scattered on the web, etc, etc. Don´t get me wrong: I don´t know if this has to do with scatter plots and traceback, face recognition methods, optimal projection vectors. All I know is that this feature rocks.

So you wouldn´t need the name of the thing, and all mortals could search with no need of some initial knowledge –or Magic-. Check Retrievr, draw something and let me know. No need to say I´m very curious about reverse searches!