A Devoted Friend Who Knows Your Interests
I’m a big fan of Lois McMaster Bujold and Suzanne Vega. I’d love to know when either artist releases something new. (For those who don’t know them, the first is a novelist, and the second is a singer/songwriter.)
There are a lot of things I’m interested in, and information about them all can be found somewhere on the Internet. My interests also pop up in newspapers, and (usually very short) segments on the evening News.
Like most people, I have a network of friends and family who share my interests, or at least know about them. They tell me when they notice one of my favourite topics making the News. Some of my friends are on the same email lists as me, and post information to the list.
However, this all seems rather haphazard. So, bands that I like come to town, and I don’t hear about it until someone mentions it after they have already left. Or, as happened once before, a friend leaves to work as a roadie for a band I love, and ends up telling me how dreadful they are. (What would you say in that case? ‘Gee, I’d love you to sneak me in?’)
There is a lot of information, and the Internet gives me access to most of it. What I need is something that can look through everything on the Internet, and on the TV News, and in the world’s output of Newspapers and magazines, and find the things that I’m interested in.
It would be dull work, so let’s not ask our fellow human beings to do it. This calls for a device, one that can handle and sift through vast amounts of data.
Sounds like a computer program.
Wouldn’t it be great if computers could do all of that: Know what you are interested in, and sift the vast information stream of the Internet and media for the things you want to know?
We could each get a News bulletin about the places and things you care about. Mine would include when Lois McMaster Bujold releases a new novel, either fantasy or SF. Your News bulletin wouldn’t, unless your interests match mine in this case.
It would be like having a devoted friend who knows what you like and has all the resources of the BBC and United Press.
Maybe, once we start getting personalised News, everyone will start watching the News again.
Now, there is pressure on television News services that says, ‘If it bleeds, it leads’. They have to win ratings by reporting brutal murders, instead of the true fact of a steady drop in the murder rate. This makes the world seem scarier than it is, and it is scary enough without that.
If computers filtered the News for things people were interested in, maybe reporters and News editors would go back to aiming for interesting topics rather than scary ones.
We do have a lot of problems in the world. It’d be helpful to have something that searched the web and the wire services for a solution to each problem.
I mean literally each one. Just cut-and-paste a scary News report into the ‘solution’ window of this tailored new program, and it filters the substance from the scare mongering and looks for a solution.
We might be out of petrol/gasoline in three years. So, how could we survive without petrol to fuel trucks to transport food? How can we grow food without tractors and combine harvesters?
Use of antibiotics, overuse, and misuse are creating antibiotic resistant strains of diseases. How can we stop antibiotic resistant diseases being created? How can we deal with diseases without antibiotics? (A word which means ‘against life’)?
When someone creates this solution function for a personalised News program, they might include a function to rephrase scary over-hyped News items as dull fact.