This morning started with an alarming email from Rick Goff titled:
Paradise Valley Fire.
It said simply “not sure if you’ve seen this yet, but I figured I’d pass this along. There doesn’t seem to be anthing on inciweb about it yet, but I’m guessing that your mom’s house was in that area.”
It sure was. Just a short distance away. I quickly wrote a note to our friend there, got confirmation that my mom’s house wasn’t affected (it isn’t easily reachable by fire) and was relieved, but sounds like there’ll be some stories to hear when we get there on Saturday.
Anyway, what really happened here isn’t the fire.
It was the gesture response.
I told Steve Gillmor the story and said “I get what you mean by gestures now.”
Now, Rick isn’t a close buddy. Or anyone I really know. I don’t think I’ve ever met him. But, he remembered that my mom lived in Emigrant, Montana. How did he know that? Cause I blogged about that a few weeks back. That was my gesture to the world. It let you know that I might care about that part of the world. That I might pay attention to it. Cause I now owned property there.
So, when Rick saw that article he returned the gesture and sent me some very valuable news.
He was faster than even Google News was (I went there as soon as I got the email trying to find more info, there was nothing on Google about this fire, although there is tonight).
Now, Steve Gillmor is trying to find gesture algorithms. You know, algorithms that do what Rick did. Return gestures.
Can algorithms fill this role? Sure. For instance, read yesterday’s post by Fred Wilson. What gestures do you see there?
I see that he enjoys personal, authentic information about Venture Capital, music, and that he already reads the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal so don’t bother sending him anything that already exists in those two publications. I can see the beginnings of an algorithm right there. First step? Visit Technorati, bring back music info from anyone with any authority. Then you start applying filters. For instance, I see two posts with Chinese language characters. Fred’s blog is in English, so we can make an assumption that he likes English (he can always tell the Gesture system that he can speak other languages, but we’re building software here and software needs defaults, so might as well pick the obvious ones).
Then, I know that Fred is educated and has sophisticated tastes (based on his past posts) so we can delete that post with all the exclamation points — that’s a gesture of a teenage/unsophisticated mind so can be safely filtered out).
What other gestures do we see on Fred’s blog? Well, I know he likes new/undiscovered music. He also has eclectic tastes. And he is looking for music that rises above the noise level. We can further filter the result set with that. For instance, look for words like “love, new, discovered, etc.”
Anyway, my point is that bloggers send gestures to the world all the time and most of those gestures are lost. But, when heeded they could form an important new information retrieval system.
Oh, I sent a gesture over to Steve Gillmor in a recent post wondering what was up with InfoRouter. Last night over dinner he returned the gesture: http://gesturelab.com/inforouter/
One other thing. I didn’t link to Fred Wilson’s blog. Why? Cause if you really cared you’d have read it by now, right? I assume my readers know how to use Google and TechMeme. Cause you’re smarter than me and I can find Fred in both places right now.
Yeah, Steve Gillmor explained to me why NOT linking is better than linking. Tell me Fred, did your traffic from search engines go up today?