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Track: The Future Tense of ‘To Search’

NASA Tracking Dish

Trying to understand what track might become if it emerges again. Every time I start to deepen the question, a new train of thought is unleashed. Track is not a well known gesture on the Network, but its potential value is unlimited.

A glint in a riverbed, images of the goldrush, Das Rheingold and Deadwood rush through my mind’s eye. Certain basic commodities are so rare and valuable that men are moved to desperate action to acquire them. Track is more like water or search, it’s rare now, but will eventually be as common as clicking on a link. It will be a primary mode for hunter-gatherers on the Network trying to find something in this particular moment. And in this moment, the glint remains obscured from vision.

Walking down the street with an economist. I spot a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk. “Hey look,” I say, ” a twenty dollar bill.” My friend the economist snorts, “don’t be ridiculous, if it really was a twenty dollar bill someone would have picked it up by now.”

Karoli Kuns says “I’ll drop a link in Twitter” as part of a live conversation across the Network. I’m listening on time delay via RSS/Sync/iPhone. It’s just a casual gesture, no one questions what she means. Think about the ripple effect of really simple publishing, and the simple findability of the item.

A commercial rolls across the television screen in the background, a bank commercial:

Real-time info matters.
Chase what matters.

Certain elements of the periodic table only appear under very special circumstances, they’re called transuranic elements. They don’t appear naturally, to the extent they exist they’ve been artificially produced in nuclear reactors or particle accelerators. Track only exists in a rarified air, a particular set of environmental conditions had to occur. The basic requirement is the real-time web, where there’s enough volume of traffic to allow track to return valuable results. Twitter is relatively small, but it has established itself as a primary gesture market with enough data structure to allow for some interesting queries to return satisfying results.

Given the general instability of Twitter, one assumes the staff there is concentrating on the basic publish and subscribe capabilities. As they discuss the new architecture, they’ve made mention of messaging rather than a traditional CMS. That suggests that track could be meaningfully supported, but they don’t seem to have an expansive understanding of what they’ve enabled.

The gesture space around track is completely new. While it’s difficult to explain what Twitter is, a solid definition of track is even more elusive. The initial use case is the extension of a directed social graph through keywords to create a listener in the live web’s primary gesture market. This creates opportunities for interactions in real time.

While chat might be the obvious first interaction, there are others that will emerge:

  • A clarification
  • Extension of a concept
  • A negotiation
  • Relaying a message to a different social graph
  • An agreement on a transaction

Complex structures can be built from simple gestures. A primary market for gestures combined with track could be the primary mechanism to enable VRM. When connecting customers and vendors in real time, it will be easier to filter a single stream of gestures rather than the whole web. Now some might argue for a special stream just for VRM transactions, but I disagree. When thinking of categories, I tend to agree with that guy who said something like — categories are important, but “everything is miscellaneous.”

Published in economics hci identity innovation markets network social graph user data value

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