20030811

See Gelernter's description of a life stream repository.

The Dawn of Simplicity

The Next Generation of Software: Shifting the Paradigm from Devices to People

Author: James W. Dunn


Introduction

Those who cater to their customer's needs, win their loyalty.

The foundation of the future is in our customer's hands. They dictate the future. As a customer experiences the world, we need to listen and technology allows us to listen like never before. Through technology, we will truly connect with our customers in intelligent and scalable ways.

We are entering a new era of computing technology. The age of complicated-to-use software will fade as simplicity emerges. To bring this necessary change about, we need to alter our thinking about our relationship with the computer. "Customer-centric computing" (C-cubed) or human-centric computing shifts the focus of design to the actual human experience of working with each other and making technology transparent rather than focusing on products, features, or devices. If we make it our goal to gain market share, we may be disappointed. Instead, if we make it our goal to truly understand our fellow earthly travelers, then we gain so much more. It's really the golden rule in action: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The test for any customer-facing interface is whether my mom can use it. She knows nothing about computers and tells me that she hopes that I am making this stuff easier for everyone. She should be able to access information about something she is interested in, communicate with her children instantly, rattle off a letter to a friend, or draw a diagram to share with her associates. She might also want to order something to be delivered. She should be able to have a long-distance dinner with a present customer. Rather than hating the computer for losing stuff and having too many keys to press, she should be able to use a computer without realizing that she is using a computer.

Old limits are collapsing day-by-day. Storage capacity, communications bandwidth, and processing power are growing. Displays are becoming larger and higher in definition. Wireless interconnectivity is increasingly reliable and ubiquitous. Headsets can read mental activity just before we say or type our thoughts. We are able to think a word or object into virtual existence. What would the human experience be like in such a world? What is the software enabling all of this? C-cubed answers these questions.


Customer Feedback

C-cubed changes the static desktop metaphor. Computers today do very little without explicit instructions from a competent user. Many people find it difficult to understand the desktop metaphor because it requires a mental map. If a user stores a letter in a particular folder, retrieving that letter is typically faster if the user remembers "where" in the system it was deposited. Search tools help, but these too can be difficult to use. Breaking the desktop metaphor allows a greater range of capability to be explored.

The following are quotes I've heard from customers about the existing state of software:

"I don't know where to begin."
"When we access the website, we don't reach people, we only reach products and knowledge."
"I copy stuff from one program to another."
"I can't keep on top of all my documents and email, and don't get me started on the spam."
"I'm looking for innovative ways to manage information."
"I live nearby yet I can't get through on the phone."
"The company is just too far away."
"I have called and waited on hold up to 45 minutes."
"I've sent letters and email and never heard back."
"I feel that I can't reach someone that cares."

Customers report that existing software constantly gets in their way. ("You can't get your computer to do something without knowing in advance what to do.") Even computer-savvy professionals can get lost in all the options. ("It's like opening the side panel of a rocket.")

How can we solve all of this with a singular paradigm shift? By focusing on customer experience rather than on maximizing profit or market share or feature upgrades.


Mission

The mission of "customer-centric computing" is the study of how humans experience the world and interact with each other and the design of technology to transparently enhance their experience.

Imagine every moment of one's life interconnected with others via some sort of high-tech linkage. We can converse with others and read each other's life history. We can tap into each other's knowledge from wherever we are. We become surrounded by trusted friends, only a glance away. We can look and see where our spouse or kids are. We can see what our parents are doing. We can interact with our friends in far away places as if they are in the same room. We can see them leaving a trace of their experience. We can instantly interact with each other or our proxies to share, question, or trade. Consider how this would change personal and business interactions.


Guiding Principles

The following are the basic axioms upon which human-centric computing is founded:

Begin with no assumptions
Human experience is the focal point
Simple is obvious
Trust is absolute
Leveraged intelligence
Harmonic coexistence

These are further described below.

Begin with no assumptions

Keep utopia in mind. Always think ahead. Plan today with a concern for where technology appears to be heading. What if we had headsets that allow us to type a sentence into a computer by thinking about writing it down. What if we had wearable broadband interfaces to The Network and we could access anyone anywhere. What if we could see apparitions in front of us like we do when we see a 3D movie at Disneyland. What if we had projectors that create this effect with our eyes in a headset-sized device. What if we could experience injected holograms of other people or objects. If so, we could visit each other in a new medium that opens the door to new modes of thinking about how we interact.

Human experience is the focal point

User experience is the central focal point of human-centric computing. We are witness to the fact that there is intelligence in the universe. Technology is a measure of that intelligence. We see intelligence demonstrated all around us as manifestations of human engineering. The best examples of intelligent design are found in the systems of engineering and business. We go about our lives making the world an easier place to live. The human being is the proper priority in the study and design of computing technology. It is a fact that the entertainment business often leads technological innovation. This is true because the human experience is the core focus of that business.

Simple is obvious

The design and interface should be as obvious as a toaster or paper and pencil. A 5 year old or a 105 year old should find the design and interface easy to understand and use. If it doesn't make simple sense, then start over. The design of a flashlight is simple. Even a child can operate a flashlight. The design of a nectarine is simple. What does a child do with a nectarine? A computer is presently too difficult for someone to use without prior training. This principle of simplicity forces us to rethink the entire user experience. This also applies to licensing. People are willing to pay for experience as they consume that experience.

Technology should be transparent and should not get in our way of interacting with the world. We should be able to merely ask to speak with someone and they appear. Software should not make its presence know.

Example: High definition screens and cameras allows realistic interaction with others without the technology getting in the way. Sharing virtual objects and knowledge structures should be painless also. Likewise, interaction with an assistant to record our experiences or pose questions or browse results should be simple.

Trust is absolute

Keep it secure. We need something we can trust as much as the electricity in our houses. A trust is a contract. What contract have I with you? If you are my friend, then I may entrust you to be in my presence around the clock.

Extensions: Personal safety, neighborhood safety, travel safety

Personal safety when at home, when driving or traveling, when in public areas, when at work. Safety extends into local neighborhood of wherever you happen to be.

Leveraged intelligence

Machine intelligence is still science fiction. Human intelligence is proven science fact. Technology can allow us to leverage the unbounded intelligence of others. We amplify our individual expertise and tap into the knowledge recorded by other intelligent beings. Networks of intelligence allow us to solve complex problems faster. This can also be thought of as "grid" thinking.

Harmonic coexistence

Everything exists in harmony to work together. There are no parts that are isolated. There is "complementarity". Holistic design complements existence. The whole must be greater than the sum of the parts. People want to do things for each other virtually.


Scenario

Let's visit a slice of life in the near future.

Anna wakes up from her late morning slumber and showers, dresses, and puts on her headset. She sees the latest news on feeds of her choice. She sees news of an event and wants to know if her husband Stuart knows of the news. She is brushing her teeth. She thinks clearly, "Sweetheart, have you seen this?" His status and location pops up on her display. He is down at the coffee shop visiting with a friend via a high-definition screen interface. His assistant displays her message. Stuart excuses himself from his visit and answers his wife verbally. She hears this through the headset. He sees her status and location on his display. She thinks to him, "I'll meet you for lunch at Noon." He replies, "OK" and adds, "I'm picking up Molly on the way home." She rinses her mouth, smiles, and replies verbally, "I love you." The headset also picks up emotional response which Stuart sees on his screen. The last thing she sees is Stuart with a big smile.

She trots downstairs and grabs a shot of orange juice and a banana. "Add apples to the grocery list," she says. Her large display in the kitchen confirms the grocery list. "Molly?" she says while thinking "Where is she?" She sees the status and location of Molly on her headset screen. "Hi Mom, I'm in math class," reads the hand-written text on both the small and large displays. She responds verbally, "Your father will pick you up this afternoon." Molly reads this on her tablet and replies in hand-writing ""Thanks...Later." Anna smiles and says "Listen to the teacher!" and Molly replies with the text "Kisses" and a rise in emotional status.

Anna walks to her den and flops on the sofa. "Marty" she thinks to herself. "We're due to hook up at 11am." Her calendar appears on the large screen and she visually verifies her schedule. "Bring up the stuff we were working on yesterday," she says. Up pops a visual knowledge structure that she and Marty were collaborating on the prior day. "Let me see the quotes," she says. The structure rotates and she is able to see the chart that they had started to work on for the next management review. She can also see that Marty did some more work on it last night. All of the changes are tagged with a different color. She notices a "TBD" is in need of an estimate. She glances at the time. 10:30am. She thinks to herself, I wonder if Carl has the numbers she needs. She states, "Connect to Carl's assistant." "What is the subject of your inquiry?" asks her assistant. She says "sales in the eastern region". This pops up on the display in text and Anna's assistant asks "Is this subject correct?" "Yes," she clearly thinks.

A message pops up. Anna's mom is calling her. "Hi Mom!" she says, her emotional level rising. Her mom's image overlays her work or pops up on an unused area. Her mom states, "I was just thinking about you." Anna is able to see her mom's status and location. "I'm just working. Love ya." she says smiling. They chat for a while. Anna notices Molly's status and location changing as she moves from her math class to her art class.

"You were going to inquire about sales in the eastern region," states Anna's assistant. "Yes, what does Carl have on this?" Up pops Carl's knowledge structure and she thinks "rotate". She sees the sales numbers for the new units come into view. "Copy the numbers for New York and put them into my TBD," she states. Her assistant confirms, "You mean?" and circles the numbers and draws an arrow to the target point. "Yep," says Anna. Her assistant grabs a copy of the numbers and slides them into the estimate. She can see the last update times on Carl's numbers. "I wonder if these are accurate," she thinks to herself. "Did you need something else?" asks her assistant. "Yeah, find out if these numbers are accurate. Thanks."

Her assistant attempts to contact Carl. Carl is in a meeting with someone else and has flagged himself unavailable. He has a link to one of his fellow workmates. His workmate answers the inquiry about the numbers. Anna sees the response. "These numbers are accurate. -Bill" Anna says, "Who's Bill" and her assistant brings up all the information about Bill, a colleague of Carl's. She decides to add this response to the knowledge structure. The knowledge structure now has the numbers along with a signed accuracy statement.

She goes back to the kitchen and cooks an English muffin. "Karen" she thinks. Her neighbor pops up on the kitchen panel. "Hey what's up girl?" Karen asks. "Hey I was just wondering how you're doing. Where did we leave off?" Their prior conversation appears on the screen and then they continue talking. Karen can see Anna seated at the counter in the kitchen, enjoying her muffin.

A short time later, Anna's assistant interrupts with "Marty is free." Anna excuses herself from the conversation with Karen. "Hey Marty, how's it going?" His image pops up in place of Karen's. "I'm good, I was just closing with a new client here on the golf course." He is seated in the clubhouse on a sofa in front of a large screen. "I've followed up on those numbers we discussed yesterday." Anna thinks very clearly, "Bring up the sales numbers." Her assistant brings up the numbers which were on the den screen. She can see that Marty is wearing a headset also and he has ordered his assistant to rotate the structure. He says, "Hey this looks great. Are these good to go to management?" She replies, "Yeah, I checked with Carl and I have confirmation and proof from his department." "Coolsville," he replies. "So do you have any new ideas on how we will present these number to management?" she asks. "Yeah." They continue discussing and collaboratively manipulating the information until they are pleased with their plan.

Later, a reminder about her luncheon pops up in her headset display. Marty also sees that Anna has a reminder about a meeting. "OK Anna, thanks for the help, I'll let you go. Marty out." Anna dashes out of the house and drives to the restaurant. On her way, she gets a call from Molly who wants to share with her mother her creation from art class. As she arrives at the restaurant, her car lets her know where the closest parking is.

Stuart has finished his coffee, visited the public library and cross-referenced a bunch of works. His assistant has helped him to classify and link the knowledge. He meets with his wife and they have a pleasant lunch disconnected from the world. During this time, another colleague attempts to reach Anna with an inquiry. Her assistant has attempted to take care of the question. She is essentially "out of office", so questions are automatically handled by her assistant. Her assistant attempts to field questions first before she is brought into the loop.

Anna is an expert in the market planning area, so she has registered herself as such. Her knowledge and experience which is stored online is very useful to others in her office. Often, questions are answered by this knowledge. Sometimes, something new comes up and a question filters through to Anna. She is one of several people who can answer questions in her area of expertise. If she is not present to answer an immediate question, someone else can answer for her. As she answers questions, these question/answer structures become part of her knowledge base. These become fuel for future interactions. Another cool thing she likes is the fact that she does not get any email spam because 1) she is registered for specific subject areas, and 2) her assistant filters all messages.

Someone walks into Anna's office downtown and finds that she is not there. But there is her likeness on a large screen. (Remember Max Headroom?) Anna's likeness asks if it may be of assistance. Her likeness explains that she is away, but she is within reach. Her likeness asks, "Can I answer a question for you? What is this concerning? What do you need to know? Are you seeking an answer to a question?"


Key Concepts

A person's knowledge becomes a way to replicate one's self. As a person records his or her experiences, he or she begins to replicate their knowledge for posterity. Our true substance is preserved. For example, as support engineers solve issues, leave a record of solution for others to utilize. We can apply this concept immediately in helping others to get answers to their questions, leading to the notion of expert amplification. Think of this as an intelligent out-of-office assistant who can interpret an email and supply an answer. Blogger.com uses a rudimentary tool from Public Mind called Active Listening System to answer common support questions.

As people move through their daily experience, questions come up. If we capture and structure questions, then we can more accurately answer these questions based on the existing knowledge in the network. Think of this as an expert wizard which guides the user through the process of crafting a question and potentially obtaining an answer immediately from the network. If a question is not immediately answered by the network, it may be answered by a pool of live experts without the original poser being aware that they actually interacted with a person.

People want instant access to ideas. Not just documents, but specific chunks of information. If a person mentions Andromeda, they want access to knowledge like paragraphs, photos, and audio commentary on the subject and see related links also. This knowledge network must be quickly searchable and easy to manipulate.

People can model things in their own way, yet share with others. One person may look at an object in a multitude of ways. Everyone uses their preferred method of investigating objects. This also transcends language boundaries.

A person becomes a node of expression in a larger network of thinkers. Problems are solved via this grid of thinkers. When someone poses a question, it is filtered into the grid for answers if it cannot be answered by existing knowledge. This is grid “thinking” or collective brainstorming.

People want to store one set of concepts in a single location and present those concepts in multiple ways such as "slide-ware" or different on-screen or paper formats or web pages. Presently, the document-centric paradigm forces us to write many versions of the same thing over and over. People want to minimize the amount of duplication of ideas. Vidyatech has a product called VidyaMagic which allows users to store training material in a database and then extract that information through a variety of templates.

People do not want complicated stuff. If a device has too many buttons, then fear of pressing the wrong button sets in. Ironically, many of these devices are designed by a small class of people who like to tinker with complicated stuff. Management should be absolutely zero...it should just work...Like a refrigerator "just works". Updates and upgrades must be completely transparent.

A person wants to be immersed into a sensory experience. Some people talk about getting into "the zone" as they write. This is a point where the technology boundary becomes transparent. This is the goal of C-cubed, to make technology transparent so that the customer can get on with what they are working to accomplish. Software should not get in the way.

(Human Inputs/output: Input = five senses; Output = voice or action <typing, glancing, other movements>)


The principle of simplicity

Function of a refrigerator versus the function of a 747 jet plane.

The refrigerator consists of very few moving parts. The 747 consists of a million parts.

Yet, the user experience is very simple in both cases.

A refrigerator's function is to keep things cold. A good user experience of a refrigerator: "It keeps my food cold and it's easy to access." A bad user experience: "It broke and my food spoiled."

A 747's function is to fly from one point to another. A good user experience of a 747: "I get on, I wait in my seat for a short time, and I get off in a new place." A bad user experience: "It was a bumpy ride."

Applied to the area of computer gaming or business applications, an application can be very complex, yet the user experience can be summed up as: "I am able to do my job in a new way. This is so cool!"


Technology Convergence

"Technology, as used in this book, means the process by which an organization transforms labor, capital, materials, and information into products and services of greater value." -page xiii in The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen. "All firms have technologies. A retailer like Sears employs a particular technology to procure, present, sell, and deliver products to its customers, while a discount warehouse retailer like PriceCostCo employs a different technology." A Sears employee wants to discover new technologies. How can we help that employee discover new technologies?

Every day brings further convergence of technologies. Converging technologies include broadband connectivity, High Definition Television (HDTV), web logging (blogging), email, collaboration, knowledge management, and transactional storage. As computers are applied to various technologies, we experience the unfolding of new areas of exploration. As we "go digital" we see that media begins to be more interchangeable and malleable. We have seen the convergence of video, sound, and paper. The lines are beginning to blur between our phones, TVs, stereos, computers, tablets, and PDAs. These devices are converging to become a single unit through which we visit and share ideas

"Convergence leads to commerce" says Gordon Bell, a Microsoft researcher.


Critical Pieces

There are two enabling technologies that fall out of C-cubed: 1) an assistant, and 2) a transactional repository.

In order to amplify one's abilities, presence, and knowledge, we need to allow a person to communicate with others in a new way. By speaking through a proxy, we enable the abstraction of existing complexity so that users do not have to think about running a program or finding a file. We also amplify a person's presence. We essentially create the functions of a personal administrative assistant. In addition, we create a backbone network to support that assistant.


Essential Elements of the Interface

The following are essential elements of the user interface:

Query structuring
Authoring
Linking
Visualization
Conversation

These are further described below.

Query structuring

Structured query building

Probably the most important feature of Anna's assistant is the structured query builder. It assists her in creating effective queries to mine for knowledge. Suppose she has a question: "What is the release date for the next model of the Posi4000?" Her assistant will narrow down this question for her and help classify it by identifying the key concepts in the question, comparing to recent and past knowledge, and asking questions to clarify the inquiry. The result is a structured query which can be passed about in search of an answer.

The future perfect interface is simple to use. Even a really novice user can figure it out. She can type a note to someone or record a thought or ask for something. The interface asks her questions to clarify and classify her activity. A user can ask their assistant about anything in the world. If the user is disconnected, the assistant will do its best to classify queries based on existing local archives.

Structured queries can be answered in many cases by existing knowledge. The above question can be routed to an appropriate query answering service for the subject area and a response generated based on on the knowledge. If the question had never been asked before, the structured question may eventually land in a pool of human operators who can address the question or pose additional clarification questions. With high service level agreements in place for priority customers, support engineers are quick to check their queue for unresolved queries. They are able to pick up where an expert system fails. From the customer's perspective, the query that they posed either gets answered or another clarifying question is returned. They might be led to believe that the computer is really smart and it was able to understand their question. Once answered by a human operator, the structured question and it's corresponding answer become part of the existing knowledge repository whereby future queries can be answered without human intervention. This amplifies an expert's presence. This enables people to become more effective.

Knowledge is vast. With the assistant interface, we can filter and move through the vast world wide structures. The number of paragraphs in the world will approach infinity.

Email replacement

Because queries are structured within specific domains of knowledge, expert users see less of the same questions being repeated. If a support engineer for the Posi4000 receives a notification that there is a question, it is likely that it has never been asked this question before. When the engineer creates a response, future similar questions can be answered by the assistant.

Email spam is eliminated because questions are only responded to in the area of the specific domains that the expert is signed up for. The support engineer for the Posi4000 is not going to be entertaining questions about poor credit or ordering pills online.

When Mary wishes to reach Frank, she must go through Frank's assistant to reach him. It is likely that Frank's assistant can answer just about anything that Frank knows. If Frank's assistant cannot answer a question, then Frank must be interrupted either now or later by his assistant with the question. The assistant allows users to be discovering new things and be bothered less by recurring old things.

With the assistant interface, users can achieve higher service level agreements. Lower SLA via email How? Because the assistant is the primary interface to knowledge rather than the primary interface being email. As we manipulate our knowledge, we structure it to answer the most common questions that we would receive in email. Drive people to interact with their assistant rather than sending email.

Authoring

Sentence parsing

The interface helps us classify my paragraph such that it is associated with something else in my computer. It does so by scanning through the sentences and mapping to existing knowledge. It does all of this in the background and simply asks a few questions to confirm with the user. As information is stored into the repository is can be thought of as augmented by associations.

Document analysis and slicing

As information is put into the interface, it can analyze and slice it into components. Old documents are broken into pieces and stored. This facilitates easier knowledge structuring.

From the interface we can ask for all the information we have previously entered. In the document paradigm, we retrieve entire documents. In the new paradigm, we retrieve specific paragraphs on a topic. This makes it far easier to find knowledge of interest. We can scan for concepts rather than be stuck in a linear search through a document.

Diagramming

People want to easily create diagrams. Rather than clicking on a tool to draw a circle, we should be able to simply draw a circle. The computer can figure out that we are drawing a circle and ask if we want to smooth out what we just drew.

Blogging

People want to record their experiences. They want to share with others. They want to be able to search through knowledge they've recorded.

The future perfect collaborative tool is the same interface. Users do not have to run multiple programs. As we enter ideas into a virtual lab space, others may be doing the same thing. An engineering team might be collaborating on a new automobile; a group of architects on a building; or a financial team may be pulling together an annual report.

At any point, we should be able to insert a blob of something, like a picture or a paragraph. This ends up being part of the time stream. It becomes a snapshot of some past moment.

Rather than running email or creating a document, users can interact in a virtual lab. Jill enters her thoughts using her assistant. John does the same thing. As they enter these thoughts, they are posted into a tree of associative ideas within the virtual lab. Jill creates a branch and calls it "Development". She adds some thoughts about this subject. John is brainstorming on marketing strategies, so he creates a branch called "Marketing" and writes or speaks of some ideas in this area. He also connects a bunch of related stuff from the network. As the pair adds their thoughts, their common space is growing. While entering his thoughts, John sees the topical areas that are growing this space. He may rotate his view in any dimension to investigate the ideas. He creates links. He then goes out to lunch.

Jill begins to make some comments about marketing. She swings into view all the stuff that John has said about his ideas on marketing. She moves customer demographics of the market segment into view. Her assistant is able to answer questions based on the knowledge that John has already entered. If she finds something she has a question about, she can tag it. The query tag has an identity and a starting time associated with it. She creates a query paragraph and her assistant helps her map to other existing subjects. The query is answered by John when he returns from lunch. Upon opening the query, John may make additional requests for information or he may write something or he may create an associative link. At all times, Jill knows what John has entered and vice versa.

Linking

Indexing

All knowledge is automatically indexed for quick retrieval.

Cross-reference

The interface helps me cross-reference and interconnect my knowledge such that it is associated with other elements either on my local machine or out on the network. This makes associative retrievals easier in the future.

Navigation

Users want the simplicity of knowing where they are relative to other landmarks. They need the ability to roam easily from locale to locale...as if roaming the countryside. Multiple maps of information can be presented. Geographic or demographic maps can be viewed and navigated. These can be thought of as travel guides. For example, as we browse a map of a country, we should be able to ask anything we want about a particular location. We should be able to access the history of that locale based on its coordinates. Eventually every position on earth can have a virtual history associated with it.

Visualization

3D representation of knowledge

Xbox interface: Dynamic 3D environment

Basic object manipulation and representation

Shapes, lines,

Conversation

Dialog wizard

The idea behind the dialog wizard is to not require the endowment of intelligence. A user should not expect to have an intelligent conversation with his refrigerator. A user should certainly expect to ask it questions about its area of expertise. Anna: "What do I have in there?" Assistant: "Do you want me to start with the freezer first?" The primary function of the dialog wizard is to map the query or statement to the area of expertise. The dialog wizard serves to bridge the user to the knowledge.

Some examples of dialog

Anna: Show me a listing of what's on tonight. Assistant: You mean on TV? Anna: Yes. Assistant: OK.

Anna: Bring up a list of all video cameras. Assistant: The transit cameras? Anna: No, a price guide of digital video cams. Assistant: OK.

Anna: Take a note. Assistant: OK. Anna: I want to call Karen later tonight. Assistant: OK.

Anna: Take this down...I want to add this sentence to the last. Assistant: OK.

Interactive voice

The user must be able to use the computer with voice command alone. There are times when a screen may not be present or the user simply prefers to interact through audio only. This can be useful while a person must focus visual attention on other things like painting, gardening, driving, or jogging.


Essential Elements of the Repository

The following are essential elements of the user interface:

Storage
Security
Search by association
Routing
Broadband

These are further described below.

Storage

Transactional

All information is stored transactionally. Every transaction is marked with a globally unique identifier.

Time stream

Every transaction is time-stamped. Every transaction has a user associated with it. Where relevant, GPS coordinates are stored.

Relational

The repository leverages high-speed relational technology.

Structure

The structure of the knowledge stored in the repository is flexible. The knowledge can be paragraphs, drawings, photographs, or linkages. Ideally, language independent structures can be stored in which case a person could retrieve the knowledge based on their preferred language.

Security

Spheres of trust

New information is stored privately unless this is explicitly overridden. Various levels of trust may be defined so that knowledge can be increasingly shared with wider audiences.

For example, I might share something with my spouse only. I might share something with my team. I might share something with the group. I might share something with my company. I might share something with the world. I might share something with a group of customers.

When I set up a virtual lab, I may open it up to multiple levels of trust. I allow others to access levels of information, from private to global.

Search by Association

Associative

Information is cross-referenced to create networks of associative knowledge.

Tracking

Any transaction can be traced. In particular, query status can be checked.

Routing

Queries route to other query servers

Resolution to a question is made in the following manner. The question routes through willing participants (like team members or help desk personnel or online services) who attempt to resolve the question. The response back to the person who posed the question can be immediate. A dialog may ensue to resolve the question. The dialog is a series of questions and answers. The dialog can be between man and machine. Some dialogs may be able to be answered by knowledge structures. Other dialogs might only be closed with some minimal human interaction. When someone wants to ask about something, they would not just write up an unstructured email. Instead, they would first visit with their assistant who structures the query. We can visit with anyone in the company in this way.

Routing leverages Exchange and AD technologies.


Strategy

I recently read a recommendation in a Visa whitepaper that made simple sense: "Think big, start small, scale fast."

"Think big" ties back to the "Begin with no assumptions" principle. We cannot be limited by a priori existence. We need to allow our minds to be open to all possibilities. Stop thinking like we have in the past. Genesis assumes nothing.

"Start small" means we investigate the pure science and then build a prototype and test it with customers. We need to crawl before we walk or run.

"Scale fast" means we design for the masses. We need to take into account what happens when everyone adopts the new technologies.

As a first priority, we need to study how to serve people - technology comes in second.


Next Steps

The time to act is now. There is no better time to make investments into the study and development of C-cubed. I propose that we research, incubate, and develop the science and application of C-cubed.


References

"The New Frontier of Experience Innovation" by C.K. Prahalad and Venkatram Ramaswamy, MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer 2003, p12.

"Customer-Driven IT: How users are shaping technology industry growth" by David Moschella, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA, 2003 (see the cool graph on page xiii)

"The Innovator's Dilemma: When new technologies cause great firms to fail" by Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA, 1997

"Customer-Centric Product Definition: The Key to Great Product Development" by Sheila Mello, AMACOM, 2002

"Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving With Grace" by Gordon MacKenzie, Viking Press, 1998

"I Think, Therefore I Communicate" by Lakshmi Sandhana, Wired News, July 30, 2003 (See http://www.wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,59737,00.html )

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