I was talking with a Professor of Neurology (a.k.a dad), recently and we got onto the topic of Jabber, Inc., a client of mine for 3 years. I recounted for dad a media pitch we used to explain the importance of presence information in real-time government scenarios copied below: (reader note: there are real life examples of this stuff I just can't say much about them.)
Take the following example. Along I-80 in Nevada :
A state trooper on a routine traffic stop notices something suspicious. The driver is not intoxicated though his eyes are red and the car seems to smell heavily of flowers though none are present. The driver has done nothing illegal other than speed, so the officer issues a speeding ticket and lets him go. In processing the ticket, the officer notes his suspicions in a secure and global chat room.
Upon receipt in the chat room, several people are notified based on various settings including origin of the report and keywords. For instance, the trooper's direct supervisor receives the information as part of a regular review of what his troopers are observing. Seeing no patterns in this information it is discarded by the supervisor. However, at the CDC in Atlanta , an on-duty analyst is alerted because of the combination of key words/phrases, 'eye irritation' and 'strong floral scent.' The analyst in Atlanta sends an instant message to the trooper asking for more specifics. Now concerned, the analyst invites the trooper, an FBI agent in Washington and the trooper's supervisor to a text conference where the CDC analyst explains the driver may have been exposed to the nerve/blister agent Lewisite. Immediately, an all points bulletin is issued for the driver who is subsequently stopped for further questioning.
In the same way, seemingly incongruent small points of information from around the globe can be brought into centralized text conferencing rooms where based on availability, area of interest, and expertise the information is monitored and patterns can be more easily found.
His reaction was “that’s essentially how the brain works.” It takes in raw sensory data, adds to it context based on a set of variables and instructs the body what to do next. More recently, I was reading an old Gartner research note (12/17/2001) on the arrival of ENS or enterprise nervous systems. Without saying the word presence, the authors described pretty well how the ability to process presence variables and add context to data is a foundation of the ENS.
When the light bulb went off, this is what I wrote:
Presence In People:
Time, Place, Mood and more are:
- Human presence variables
- Variables that affect how we process sensory inputs
Human Central Nervous System (CNS)
- Processes sensory inputs and variables
- Adds context to raw data
- Informs our actions, especially in crisis
Presence in Networks:
Time, Place, Connectivity, Mood and more:
- Are network presence variables
- Affect how information is sent, received and processed
A Distributed Nervous System
- Processes distributed presence variables (data, apps, srvcs, human attributes, etc.)
- Adds context to distributed data streams
- Distributes contextual data to where it is needed
- Enables better informed decisions to be made faster
- Enables informed decisions to be distributed widely and appropriately
- Distributed decisions are made with centralized cohesion
I think the seeming parallels between how the human brain processes decisions and how advanced and intelligent networks are beginning to make them is fascinating stuff. To me it seems like decoding the human genome. Only it can’t be reverse engineered. Meaning we’re working forward defining a proliferating number of presence variables and coding how they change the handling of ever increasing streams of data.