Skip to main content

Things I have seen

Since this journal is turning into precisely that - longer posts of daily thoughts and revelations, I've decided to start brainmunchies, a day-to-day directory of delightful finds. Hopefully it will turn into an interesting collaborative venture with Ed.

I've recentlty been toying with the notion of 'things I have seen'. Basically the web can be partitioned into two spaces: things that appear on a Google results list, and things that are a click away from a page on the results list. The latter are often the more interesting, but Google can't (yet) say 'you should look at this'. Enter the human element. I can look at something, and if it was valuable in some sense, I'll remember that I've seen it even years from now. Where it is located is not as important, I'll be able to track it down eventually. For convenience, say I make a record of these things I attach some worth to (in the most vague sense); now when I'm looking for it, I'm looking through 5000 items instead of the 3 billion Google is looking at. Chances of finding it again quickly are looking pretty good.

It's easy to conceive of automating much of this process. If I read a web page (and by read, I mean start at the top and scroll down at a pace that corresponds reading rather than skimming or an incidental hit), it's some indication that the content has interested me. Same argument goes for e-mail - we're currently stuck with this read/unread binary paradigm - I really want something to figure out 'he read this and found it was really useful'.

There's an interesting side effect which is already evident. I used to remember phone numbers, e-mail addresses, web sites and all sorts in memory; that's stopped, hopefully not because of ability, but rather because it's more efficient (or easy?) to simply know how to find the information, rather than actually knowing it. Of note, I'm now paying more attention to names, interests, people's more human aspects, instead of the boring details like phone number and free/busy information. Maybe the invasion of such personal-assistant-like functionality isn't to everyone's taste, but there are no complains here.