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Visiting The Ghost

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John Rhodes

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User since: 07 Jan 2001

Articles written: 1

I've read a few articles recently about how there really isn't a need for more computing power. At a minimum, there aren't many applications out there that require the horsepower of the machines that are for sale today. Therefore, the computer market is slumping because people are not buying new machines, and they are not upgrading. Mobile computing is interesting, but not critical. Computer technology is kind of in a slump when you think about it. What has truly changed in the last several years? I can�t think of many true breakthroughs.

I've also been reading a bunch of stuff by Dave Winer over on Scripting News and DaveNet. He's always going on and on about The Two Way Web, Desktop Web Sites, Manilla, P2P, and other related stuff. He does have a clue that technology isn't really about technology. It isn�t a self-licking ice cream cone. It is about people. He knows that folks sit at the other end of technology. In any event, his ideas are interesting

On CHI-WEB, there have been several discussions about how people are always emphasizing the web. There is certainly more to the Internet than the web! And, I could easily argue that technology is much more than the Internet. But, I won't do that because Jakob Nielsen has already done it for me. The point is that people tend to be focused on what is in front of them. They rarely think beyond, and focusing on the future is rare.

I wrote an article on WebWord that brings these ideas together. It is something of an open letter to Dave Winer, telling him exactly where I would like technology to go. As a human, I tell him what I would like. I explain the ideas come together in a very interesting package: My Ghost!

So here, at, a place I visit for inspiration, I want to share my ideas and go a little bit beyond my article on WebWord. I'll use some examples to get my idea across.

Suppose that you are in a meeting. Wouldn't it be great if that meeting was captured automatically (e.g., voice and video)? Wouldn't it be great if the information was sent to your very own personal web server (i.e., the main location of your Ghost)? If you don't think it is great, consider these things. Suppose that you could have your ultra-powerful desktop server (and client!) drill through that meeting and generate a summary. Suppose that your Ghost could scan through the conversation, or the text copy of it, and recommend ways for you to improve your interaction styles with the people in the meeting.

Imagine that it automatically categorizes and catalogs each meeting like this. Or any other interaction, for that matter. At any time, you can ask your Ghost to do things with the data. Further, during down times the Ghost could scan everything in its memory to find patterns. It could recommend ways to improve your golf game based on weather patterns, what you eat before you play, who you have played with, and what courses you played on.

Sounds interesting, don't you think?

Here's another example of the Ghost doing its work. Suppose that you are in your car. You get a call from your husband or wife about going on vacation in about 2 months. What if all of that information (e.g., time of the call, person calling, the conversation, weather conditions, everything!) was recorded in your car and sent back to your Ghost? Your Ghost could then scan through all of your meetings, plans, recordings, birthdays, and so forth, and could tell you if you would be able to go on the vacation. Also, your Ghost would talk to your husband's Ghost (or wife's), and they would determine if the vacation was feasible. They could talk with travel agency computers and work it out for you. When you get home, a simple report is provided to you (and your spouse, and children) in the format you choose.

"Yes, you can certainly go. There are minor complications. Here is an itinerary, if you choose to go. Just let me know."

The Ghost does the work. Simple, clean, and the ultimate in usability. It also requires incredible computing power (including storage, neural networks, voice recognition, user profiling, etc.) and attention to human psychology and sociology. The Ghost gives us a reason to always want more computing power. The more it can record, they more it can help us. The more it can extend our ideas. The more it can deliver information and ideas in the ways we want, through the channels we care about.

I hope the Ghost gets you thinking...

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