I’m in a great conversation on the value of data. Major issue that is raised is anonymity — it is really hard to anonymize big data:
Seems like one solution might be creating a new, regulated, profession, like doctors or lawyers. Not exactly the crowd-source and internet-loved solution, but I’m not sure we can trust society with utterly open information … while there clearly is enormous potential value to analyzing this information.
So C|Net has anointed Highlight as the hottest new app out of SxSW.
Quick overview: Highlight is an app which takes our friends lists in various social services, your interests, your industry, etc. and lets you know when people with similar interests are nearby.
I’m really dubious about this claim on C|Net’s part, starting with their decision to use Scoble as evidence of success (“Robert Scoble has written effusively about it … “) — Scoble seems like on of Google Plus’ dwindling power users, and his decision to stick it out on the Titanic seems to diminish his authority.
The two issues that stand-out to me:
- Battery drain is awful. Its hard enough to maintain decent battery life in the signal black-hole that is Austin, and Highlight dramatically aggravates the issue with constant location use
- There isn’t a clear “what’s next?” The goal is to create meaningful connections with strangers. Finding interesting strangers is certainly a barrier, but Highlight doesn’t completely solve the issue (you still need to get geographically proximate to the people, then recognize them), and there are a host of other barriers to creating the connection.
- I have yet to see anyone actually using Highlight, rather than just experimenting with it.
So, I can imagine certain situations where highlight might be interesting — a new job, or smaller convention where you specifically want to network. But it isn’t an application I can imagine using on a daily basis. It is no Twitter or Foursquare.
All-in-all, this makes me wonder if “winning SxSW” is really meaningful these days.
Yesterday, I attended MacWorld with Ryo Akasaka & others from Stanford’s human-computer interaction program. It was an interesting show–more like a focused street fair than a true convention, but two pieces of software caught my eye.
CoBook is (yet another) app which tries to tackle the address book space–something that’s really necessary, once you get beyond managing a few friends and family members in Address Book.
It clearly is a piece of beta software–it crashed quickly while indexing my contacts, and doesn’t have a tear-away option, so you can’t see contacts while in another program–but it does a lot of things right, starting with baked-in Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter integration to match what’s done on iOS devices, really easy note-taking to remember context, and syncing with most of OSX’s default software. Which, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to include Exchange. Still, they’re planning to launch a full version soon (~$25), and I’m looking forward to it.
Soonr is a cloud document sharing service, which is interesting … but I was particularly excited by Soonr Scribble, an app they apparently just released at MacWorld (now on iOS). It lets people write on a wide range of documents–not just PDFs, which seems to be industry standard.
I’m a little concerned that it requires a Soonr account, which starts at $99/year, but I could still imagine it as a boon to college students and consultants, for mark-ups and note taking on the fly. It also makes a stylus a much better option, though I’d recommend avoiding the Griffin.