You’re a zombie. The trouble with zombies is you don’t know you’re a zombie. How can you tell you’re a zombie? Take out your mobile and try any one of the local discovery applications. Say you’re hungry, thirsty or bored. What’s the first thing you have to do with any one of these applications? Pick a category. Hungry? Select restaurants? Thirsty? Pick a bar! Bored? Um, I don’t know. Find a museum? Picking a category first is such an ingrained behavior that you – and the companies offering these applications – don’t even think about. You just do it. Zombie.
If you’re hungry in the morning, an Egg McMuffin at the nearby McDonald’s might do the trick. Or a donut at the 7 Eleven across the way. Or some fresh fruit at the Safeway around the corner. Of course, with all of the local mobile applications, you’d have to pick a restaurants category (or is it fast food) first? Then convenience stores (except in Finland). Then, well, you’ll never get to supermarkets.
This is a problem of knowledge and discovery, not data and search. It’s not about searching for something specific and get all of the sites that match a keyword. It’s about discovering things you don’t know ahead of time that will meet your needs after they are presented to you for selection.
We’ll introduce an application called ThingsThere that let’s you find the things that meet your needs right then and there regardless without you going through this mindless step of picking a category first. ThingsThere is powered in turn by Trajectory, the Brilliant Arc Local Knowledge Management platform.
We’ll talk about the overall problem of category self-selection in local discovery, look at how ThingsThere solves this problem and explore how Trajectory and other knowledge-based (semantic) solutions can be used. We’ll contrast this approach with all of the other data and search (syntactic) approaches (which are only partial solutions). And we’ll show how to effectively use something like Mechanical Turk to populate content along the way.
And at the end, we will free all zombies in a massive evangelical experience complete with a stunning other-worldly light show right there on the stage. Without the light show part.
Michael Bauer started working as an Internet professional in 1993 for Tim O’Reilly on the Global Network Navigator, selling one of the very first Internet advertisements to NordicTrack. He went on to build his first company which in turn put the first version of Mapquest on the Internet, deployed some of the first e-commerce sites (BlackBox and Fisher Scientific), and developed an early domain name Internet directory on Internet.ORG. After selling his first company, Michael worked on the integration of local search and directory systems for a company called iAtlas (later sold to Alta Vista), created a localized version of the DMOZ Open Directory for Webb Interactive, worked as the Vice President of Open Source relations for Jabber, Inc., and consulted with Joltid (which later became Skype). Michael became Vice President of Product Strategy for Local Matters, initially working for such clients as Dex, Sensis, and Pages Jaunes on local ontology systems. At LMI he led the “Lab”, conducting research and prototyping consumer-centric local search applications. Before leaving LMI, Michael spearheaded the development of localguides.com and briefly managed the AreaGuides business. Michael is currently CEO of Brilliant Arc, a Local Internet company, specializing in local ontology and listing management. Michael works at the intersection of business, design, and technology in the conceptualization and implementation of new Internet-based applications. Michael holds a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Science in Industrial Administration from Carnegie Mellon University.
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