More on Why a Syncverse

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Why a Syncverse? We need to reduce the complexity of information

Recently (Fall 2010) I’ve been reading about the concept of information overload. Information that flows in from the television, cellular phones, the internet, the radio and beyond and it seems to have no end. It is a constant flow of information.

1. Find me a path:

a. The Syncverse is designed to be a single source of information for both your personal and professional life. The goal is to reduce the number of sources of information that inundate you every day.

b. The information can be further reduced by leverage the two new professions/companies we create called information brokers and merchants. This will allow you to control both the source and type of information that makes it through to you.

2. Allow me to turn off my system (and yet not fall hopelessly behind)

a. I took a vacation once where I had no access to my computer. I came back to work at the end of two weeks with 4,000 plus emails in my inbox. It took me over a month to get caught up.

b. The Syncverse design includes the ability to stack information in your inbox and your “Myverse” that will allow you to queue the information so that as it is played back to you it is in order of the priority you have assigned that source, person or type of information.

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Myverse Part III

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Myverse Part III

What is my data, what is shared data?

The two questions above are questions that the Myverse was built to address. The issue here is the complexity of sharing information on the internet today in the ad-hoc sense.

Type of data

Need to share level

Security required for sharing yes/no

Type of security required (high, medium, low)

Personal pictures

High (pictures of grandkids)

Yes

Low (little to no personal information here but you do need to have some security)

Personal data (taxes)

Low

Yes

High (way to much personal information)

Business data (proprietary)

High

Yes

DRM or other method of document locking so that even though shared, can’t be used by people that don’t have rights/access.

Business Data (already published)

High

No

Repackaging existing internet data into new paradigms doesn’t require significant security unless this becomes a competitive advantage.

There are many more types of data that can be considered. The scenario solution always includes the following formula:

Risk of loss – value of the solution = go / no go on sharing

Where we consider the risk of losing the information (personal pictures the risk is low – as long as you have a backup!) but business data can be high if it provides your organization with keys to doing business. So the formula should be applied in an automated manner allowing users to effectively share information as needed and warning/prohibiting sharing if the risk is greater than the perceived reward.

 

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A Syncverse Sidebar

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Sidebar

Can you ever have change without a driver? There are a number of critical issues that will impact the ideas in this book. I have captured them as issues (the ones I can foresee) in the book. But change in and of itself seldom occurs without a driver.

In the next section we talk about the concept of why we should do this. It seems pretty simple from a 50,000 foot level right now as to why. Why is a critical concept for change. The question right now is the overall driver behind the why.

The United States enacted Social Security during the great depression to take care of people as they aged. It appears to be a great humanitarian gesture but in reality its roots were probably at the start of the depression when soldiers from WWI, marched on Washington D.C. demanding their bonus money. Social Security appeared later but that had to be a factor. The question for this section has to be what the driving issues are.

1. The data exists today, and is already flowing around people

2. Freedom is something all people should have

3. Reducing violence worldwide is a good thing

4. We can solve global healthcare issues with a global healthcare system

5. Education is the solution to many of today’s problems.

The 3rd one would be pretty hard to prove (the Syncverse today announces a reduction in violence worldwide due to information). The one that intrigues me, and was the basis of my actions 20 years ago that led me to this solution today is the concept of education.

A number of companies are working toward or building solutions very similar to the Eduverse. Well at least they are building pieces of the Eduverse. The problem is not what they are building, it’s all excellent. What is missing is the linkage provided in the Eduverse system. You can extrapolate this to the broader Syncverse as it would be a requirement for building the Eduverse but would also be the source of raw data for the other verses going forward.

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Syncverse Cleanup Engine

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Myverse Part 1:

Help me be me[1]

The cleanup engine of the Myverse will be a tool leveraged to maintain information about you. This system will have two engines:

· The me update engine

· The me search engine

As stated earlier in the book one of the launching pads for this idea was of course the concept overall of the number of places there was information about me. The search engine will go out and find all the instances of you within the search engine. You will then be notified of an instance of you that exists. You can make one of three choices

· Leave as is

· Notify system of new information

· Ask system to remove the information about you

These options will appear to you via the Syncverse Notification engine. The notification engine (described in detail in chapter 3) will be a component of the Myverse infrastructure.


[1] With apologies to Jerry Maguire.

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Notify me (how will the Syncverse talk to me!)

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Syncverse Notification Engine

The notification system will have a number of interactions with the end user that require considerable thought.

· How do you like to receive updates?

· What type of updates do you want in various locations?

· When do you not want updates?

How do you like to receive updates?

Initially when you enter your Myverse you will have a series of settings to build that will begin the process of how you receive notifications. There are multiple types of notifications but they can be classified into three simple structures:

· Changes you need to make

· Information that is critical for you

· Actions required

The first is of course things that require you to interact with the information and then provide additional information to the original submission and resubmit. The second is information that is critical for you (Tornado Warning in your location, pricing change for something you are selling etc.) And finally if there is a specific action required for you (such as a yes/no reply) how do you want to receive those messages.

What type of updates do you want in various locations?

There are a number of devices and types of devices out there on which you can receive updates. What type of update do you want on any specific device. For example, a long document requiring input from you probably should go to your cellular device as a notification and to your laptop as a document. Versus a update notification from the Myverse could come to your cellular device as a voting button.

When do you not want updates?

Finally when do you schedule your down time when you do not want updates of any form to any device other than the traditional email update that sits in your inbox until you act upon it. This timeline may change based on a number of factors:

Type of Data

Source of Data

Action

Personal

Family

Accept to nearest device for action.

Personal

Friends

Accept but limit to email from 12 am to 6 am.

Business

Your Manager

Accept but limit to email from 12 am to 6 am.

Business

Peers

Accept but limit to emails at all times.

Business

Peers Exception List

Move specific people from work peers to personal/friends

With this structure (and there are many more variations) you can setup emergency contact information and structures. You can even has a natural disaster or storm warning system that publishes to your Syncverse and if your GPS reading is in the warning area, have that pushed directly to you.

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The Myverse (initial draft)

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Looking for your keys?

The Myverse

We started this book considering the number of devices that I currently have and the concept of how painful it is to keep those devices and your various internet ID’s in synchronization. From that conversation with a number of other professionals I came up with the concept of the Syncverse. The Syncverse is a solution to the problem “how do I synchronize all the data and devices I have.” The value of synchronization at that point is keeping the devices, data and systems you operate in sync so that you can be at any device at any time and have the right information to live your life.

But the other side of the Syncverse is you. There is data about you floating around on the internet that has no automated cleanup or correction. There is data you need to have with you for upgrades and for your organization to connect with you and help you.

Myverse Part 1:

Help me be me[1]

The cleanup engine of the Myverse will be a tool leveraged to maintain information about you. This system will have two engines:

· The me update engine

· The me search engine

As stated earlier in the book one of the launching pads for this idea was of course the concept overall of the number of places there was information about me. The search engine will go out and find all the instances of you within the search engine. You will then be notified of an instance of you that exists. You can make one of three choices

· Leave as is

· Notify system of new information

· Ask system to remove the information about you

These options will appear to you via the Syncverse Notification engine.


[1] With apologies to Jerry Maguire.

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Syncverse, To be or not be Secure

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To be secure

“Wither tis nobler in the minds of men.[1]” Information strangled by the application of security. It is a horrible vision that many crime scene shows focus on (a strangled person found in a house) or on the nightly news. The problem is we allow information to be strangled all the time.

1. Government control of information

2. Organization control of information

3. Personal control of information

So how do we fix this from a broad perspective? The first one is a problem that many times gets people killed. Often the information they are seeking is not the kind of information that topples the government, but that doesn’t really seem to be the problem. The problem here is control, both from a corporate/organization and governmental perspective. Removing control from information is a risk many organizations do not want to consider.

However your personal control of your information is also something that has to be considered going forward. Protecting the user without losing control to organizations and governments will be an eternal battle within and for the Syncverse.

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[1] “Hamlet” William Shakespeare

More on the Upgradeverse

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Upgradeverse Store Requirements

· Ability to upgrade existing registered applications

· Link to the World Wide Web for review, use and other information relevance to the users experience with the software.

o User run

o Vendor sponsored

· Add on and template area for all registered applications

The store allows both users and vendors to add value to the applications they use. The template “store” would allow professionals to charge for their templates as a subscription service with everyone else freely sharing their templates. The first two components of the store would be areas where you could purchase full versions of applications that shipped with your PC or upgrade to higher or more advanced versions of existing applications. Additionally this would be an area where you could also explore focused forums that talk about the features and functions you are most interested in. In the user run scenario you would interact with other people who use the same software and discover news ways to leverage the software, as well as support/help from other users. With the vendor sponsored forum you would have a place to go to get authoritative information about the software that is valuable to you.

Business Software Upgrade Service

The concept of just-in-time information is one that requires solutions that support the right information always being available to remote professionals.

· Application lock

· Application update

· Information update

· Information Lock

The four core components of this solution involve two control areas, one is update and one is lock. With locking, the business can say any application or information that is older than x days, hours etc. do not allow the system to launch or use that information. This allows the organization to control the process of information and application aging.

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problem statements for the Syncverse

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These are reposts but would love some thoughts and comments…

Problem 1: No single source system for storing materials. This shouldn’t be a huge issue and it doesn’t have to be one single storage location. This should simply be an application that asks you where do you keep this kind of information. And then know to always look there, and always put new data of that type in that location. Then we simply setup WHS to back up your personal application stores!

With the reality of no single sourcing system for storage the reality of “devices” becomes even more significant. We all have a number of devices that we use for various things. (Interesting fact, someone once told me that Swiss Army knives were limited tools. They have many functions they can do, but aren’t good at most of them – the same is true for devices).

Problem 2: So many data types. As mentioned above a single application that allowed me to enter the types of data I sync and where I keep them would be a significant value.

Let’s simply for a moment think about formats that you can leverage today:

Music

· Apple

· Zune

· MP3

· Others

Video

· MP1, 2, 4

· HTML 5

· Silverlight

· Others

This is just looking at audio and video which tend to be the thing that most travelers and people carry with them daily. If you add the many other data types to consider (office documents, RSS feeds, Video feeds, Podcasts etc the number is staggering). How do you convert this to a single standard (not .mov or .wma, but MP4?) so that any device can use it.

Problem 3: Amount of data that we are talking about can become massive quickly. 70,000 pictures = more than 60 gigabytes of disk space.

It is a lot of data. This is not a simple number to comprehend and worse add in the various formats and the data may not play on the device you are carrying. But the reality of this particular problem is actually getting that data to your device. The more data we are talking about the greater the cost to move that data is. The biggest cost is time and with time, you run the risk of lost components.

What can we do, with these problems we face?

So the three problems are pretty hard when considered together. Store It, Convert it and Manage It are quickly simply huge problems to consider when moving towards a unified Sync structure. The first problem is actually the easiest to solve using the Windows Azure offering from Microsoft Corporation and incorporating that solution with the existing Dropbox and Windows Live Skydrive offerings. With this we can solve the easy problem, storage.

What about the other two problems, Convert it and Manage it? There are a number of applications that manage your media files and convert them at the same time. But they are very device dependent today. It has to be an application that converts the data type to a format supported by all devices.

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Havenverse requirements

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Application Requirements

· Easy to use

· Security principles

· Highly available solution

· Speed is critical

· External connections

· Validation workflow

With the application itself we have the culmination of the overall design considerations as well as the continuation of the critical user requirements.

The big design elements that the user won’t touch are the administration validation workflow process that will occur in the background and the connection system that also occurs in the background.

The validation process must be fast. Allowing for the following considerations:

· Repeat submissions in a specific area

· Collaborative evidence (video or newsfeeds etc)

· Unfinished submission (cut off or interrupted)

· False submission – attempt to “mislead system”

· False submission – prank/uninformed

The last two are critical to quickly move from submission to action. Given that some people have a desire to hurt others, they will use an open and anonymous system to flood that system with false and misleading reports to delay response to what they are doing. The first three are also critical the first for trending the second for quick validation. The third is a failsafe designed to capture partial information for collaboration. In cases of abuse, be it genocide or a spouse abusing another spouse, the reality is the abused person seldom has a lot of time to act. Catching and acting on partial submission will be critical.

Data Entry Requirements

· Critical data (name or other identifier) must be captured first

· Location can be captured from the IP addressing or physical bounce back of the actual machine the person is using to enter the information

· Type of abuse (free form entry) when I first envisioned this component I thought about a drop down list, but then I realized that list would be so long the person trying to enter would have to scroll far too long to enter any information and that would be a risk.

The last bullet makes me sad. There are so many ways human beings can abuse each other. Why is it that we spend so much time figuring out ways to kill each other?

Security Requirements

· Reporter security

· Validator security

· System security

Social Requirements

· Quick reporting from the system to social systems (twitter, yammer etc) regarding systematic or wide spread abuses

· Managed reporting to social networks (updates are approved manually to confirm hey are actual problems)

The power of the social media solutions is that they get information out, quickly to a large number of people spread across a large geography.

Reporting Requirements

· Agile report structuring that allows for ad hoc, structured and standard reporting

· Ability to collate a number of “abuse” reports and deliver them quickly to the proper organization, agency or government

· Mapping report (this is already done) that maps instances of issues into areas on a map for visual reporting

Reporting is critical both from a knowledge of problems but also from a tracking abuse to the system.

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