My 2 regular readers (thanks mum and dad!) may have noticed that the frequency of my posts has dropped dramatically since 2012. There was a reason for this - beyond my strongly held opinion that those who have nothing sensible to say should simply shut-up. That reason was/is that I have been starting a new venture and the 'stealth mode' has lasted a lot longer than I expected.
In 2012 I suffered an information crisis and I suspected that I was not alone. The crisis arrived because I was being increasingly overwhelmed with information and most of the information swamping me was not on the web. Instead it was in the form of documents and email. I pride myself as being pretty well organised with effective email filters in place and an organised corpus of professional and personal knowledge approaching 1,000,000 objects. Mostly documents of one sort or another.
I was quietly proud of my knowledge management skills but after pride cometh the fall - and in 2012 that's what happened. Let me explain how it happened and I hope the story will resonate with you.
As a serial entrepreneur and corporate analyst, I have a broad range of professional interests. These range from all aspects of analytics and information management, and broaden out into general management and IT. I am also a bit of a pack rat and if I come across some information that looks useful I store it. For those interested, my tools of choice are Mac OSX, HoudahSpot, DevonAgent and Devonthink.
So over the last 20 years I have built up a very useful corpus of knowledge. By 2011 however I was becoming increasingly frustrated by my inability to effectively use this corpus in my daily work. Each day I need to deal with the usually pile of emails and read/respond to/create multiple documents. This presented the following problems:
- Identifying and dealing with those emails and documents that I had to.
- Ignoring the rest.
- Locating past knowledge/information that would help me to deal effectively with the day's emails and documents.
So the problems were pretty much at the core of what I do.
If only there was a way for me to more efficiently decide whether-or-not a long email or document was worth me reading. Then, when I needed to make a decision or give advice, how could I tap into my corpus of knowledge?
These are the problems solved by my new venture Six Degrees Of Data.
Six Degrees Of Data is building Apps and web services that we hope turn the web on its head. Our first product will launch later this year. It is called Bridger and is an App and Web Service that intelligently evaluates, summarizes and links your documents to trusted sources on the web.
Bridger is a research assistant for busy people suffering from information overload.
We are trying to release the value currently locked inside documents because despite the phenomenal growth of the internet, 80% of the new information created each year is still unstructured – in other words it is text, graphics and video contained in things like documents, emails, Facebook shares, web pages and tweets, etc. This unstructured information is poorly integrated with the world wide web. Even if they are published to a web site, they have remained isolated islands of information – until now.
Within the last five years, the size of the average web page has more than tripled, and the number of external objects has more than doubled. The average web page is now 1 MB and growing at over 20% each year. Today the average web page has about 10 links and 600 words. So it is reasonable to say that less than 2% of the content is hyperlinked to something else.
Your documents often contain only a single link (or less) and many more words than a web page.
If you are lucky, there is a single bridge (hyperlink) from the web to your document. Think of your documents as information that is connected to the web superhighway only via an off-ramp. You can find published documents easily enough because published documents are indexed by the likes of Google and Bing. But what you can’t do is start from your document and get easily back onto the web in an intelligent way.
That’s why we see the current web-document world as a one-way off-ramp.
Bridger builds you an internet on-ramp for all of your documents – whether they are published on the web or not. This is how we can release the untapped value of the 80%.
How do we do this? Well, it’s pretty complicated technically but the good news is that you really don’t have to know about this if you don’t want to. All you need to understand is that Bridger takes your isolated documents, emails, etc. and automatically links them to over 50 billion trusted additional sources of information on the world wide web.
Drop a document on to the Bridger app and it will instantly tell you what the document is about and give you concise profiles of all the relevant people, organizations, places, technologies and more.
Your document is magically transformed into a fully integrated web body of knowledge.
And Bridger is the first of a stream of new products we re planning. Future areas that we will concentrate on are enriching our personal corpus' of knowledge, collaboration and sharing.
So my posts may remain sporadic but I hope to share more about Bridger and our journey as Six Degrees Of Data gets up and running over the coming months.
In the meantime, if you have a passion for the Semantic Web, Linked Open Data, URI's, sparkle and tuples, then give me a call.