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Society 2.0 Workstreams will socialize data

I recently happened upon Google’s timeline and map search options, one of their latest in-house labs projects. I found myself pleasantly surprised, too…

“See results on a timeline or map. With the timeline and map views, Google’s technology extracts key dates and locations from select search results so you can view the information in a different dimension.”

I didn’t find myself quite as pleasantly surprised by the maps option, which struck me as being somewhat iterative.

However, being able to search for things based on a timeline narrative could have quite profound consequences on the way in which we not just search for stuff, but use that newfound stuff, too.

And could also help us uncover, say, some political unmentionables, quotes-misquotes, as well as major events that you forgot the date on which they happened.

The reason I like the idea of a timeline narrative so much is because it melds rather sweetly with the way in which I’ve been thinking about search.

In addition, Google’s timeline search is a worthy adjunct to my Workstreams concept, which is essentially your business in narrative form, stretched along a timeline:

“Let’s think business.

So you have your Twitter account, which only provides updates to known friends. You’ve subscribed to something like the web applications I’m currently working on, so you have feeds for job tickets, calendar events, outstanding tasks, reports et cetera.

Imagine linking all of this together into your own feed that your colleagues can subscribed to – and extend with team data – telling them not only what you’re doing, but when you’re doing it and where.”

If my recent thinking has any chance of coming to fruition, then Google could just hand businesses like mine the keys to company car with a full tank of petrol:

“The goal of the one search result isn’t a new concept, and it’s certainly possible.

But it’s not so much a question of the search engines knowing more about you and what you want, but more about the search engines knowing what you’re doing and what you want the information for.

In the real world, you start a complex question with some background information. So if the search engines want to be as smart people, then people have to be prepared to take the extra time and make the extra effort.”

But what if?

We’ve all heard about Web 2.0, yes? Well what about Government 2.0? Now there’s a thought:

“Wisdom no longer flows from officialdom to the population, but is co-created with citizens. Civil servants contribute openly to Facebook groups on controversies of the day.

Government websites have wiki areas where people can exchange tips about filing tax returns or claiming benefits. Databases of restaurant inspections, tide tables and postcodes are available for all to see and re-use in mashups of geography, time or events.

Before launching a new online public service, the government checks to see whether a user community is already doing it better. In short, government learns to let go of the web.”

In addition to your Workstream aggregating your work stuff and your business activities, you could extend your Workstream into a group share, something that includes the Workstreams of your colleagues.

The nuts & bolts are already there, with the likes of OPML files, which is essentially a way of grouping RSS feeds into one sources. But what if you’re a legal partnership, or an organization that doles out consumer advice? Or you’re an outdoor pursuits events organizer and you need access to OS (Ordnance Survey) data?

Imagine being able to meld your Workstream with Government 2.0 databases, pooling their data intermixed with the public reactions to the data over time.

So you’re not just building Workstreams, but you’re also providing Workstreams that have an open access element that allows people to subscribe to information (distinctly different to data, trust me) which is pre-qualified in terms of being partly or wholly responded to and voted upon by you, the people.

Your decisions are no longer based on a wild guess, but layers of checks & measures and the new socialized democracy of the web, drawn out over a temporal narrative, allowing you to see where the various modes and types of feedback entered into the process and how their relevance then reflects on your needs of this information in the here & now.

In effect, we become strakeholders in a shared social enterprise charged with the task of managing and distributing our own data.

Things get even more wild when you consider how something like Yahoo! Pipes could massively simplify the assembly of these Workstreams:

“This is the kind of technology that has the potential to strip away a whole layer of middleware, and / or middleman mediation.

The kind of technology that makes you the service provider. Might even save you the odd monthly subscription fee.

And for the end user, the studious researcher, the committed analyst and the pixel-pushin’ designer, this means an immediacy, a simplicity and a dream of concise knowledge mining that’s no longer a just a pipe dream.”

That’s not Web 2.0 and it’s not even Government 2.0, it’s Society 2.0…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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