There’s a potentially interesting new book out, but it may be one of those “better as a magazine article” books. I’m not sure, but one idea it contains sounds pretty intriguing — how the technology world is orienting itself around each user, rather than making users orient themselves in the world.
The book is called, “I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works,” and it’s written by Nick Bilton, a lead blogger for the New York Times’ Bits blog. In an excerpt that appeared earlier this week, Bilton talks about how maps, which once made you orient yourself using landmarks and notation, now place users at the center and interact with them as they move and explore — from car GPS screens to smartphones, we’re becoming accustomed to a world oriented around ourselves.
It’s why Facebook and Twitter have become such basic news sources. It’s why Flipboard on the iPad is so intriguing. Bilton argues that the expectation is so strong that users will jailbreak personalization if it’s not offered:
The Internet generation is looking for personalized experiences, from the clothes that they buy, to when, where and how they watch the latest episode of “Glee.” For content creators this poses a problem: if they don’t offer the option to consume a product in a personalized way, many consumers will simply go and get it themselves — something that some would call stealing.
The idea describes something we’ve probably all been observing, from RSS readers to Twitter to Facebook to email, the news finds us. We’re the center of an information service world.
I paired this post with the slideshow about mobile sites because I think the two ideas are related — the Web is both mobile and omnipresent in some ways, but the way it’s being deployed is about each user. It’s the antithesis of broadcast, yet it requires broadcast. And the “filter failure” we’re worrying about requires traditional filters, but then gets filtered further.
The revolution just keeps rolling along.