Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Experience Systems

The next generation of data systems on the horizon are Experience Systems. These are systems that sequence content exposures (i.e. events) to form coordinated user experiences. A user experience is a collection of events that are arranged in a particular order to have a specific impact on the user. The distinguishing components of the Experience System architecture are its Profile Manager, Experience Generator and Event Store.

The user interface of an Experience System encompasses a Query Generator, Preference Manager and Profile Manager. The Profile Manager gathers much more expansive data on the end user than the Preference Manager. These data elements comprise a detailed psychological profile of the user. Such profiles can be generated by prolonged exposure to a psychological assessment system that on the surface would look like a video game played in a very sophisticated virtual world.

This assessment system presents the user with an appropriate narrative under which resides a sophisticated decision tree. The user traverses this tree in the course of “playing the game”. The user’s decisions in the face of a specific sequence of scenarios place her at a particular location on the underlying N-dimensional assessment grid. It is the user’s historical path and current location in this grid that characterizes her profile. The longer the user interacts with the system, the more precisely her profile can be defined.

The shape of the space in which the assessment grid resides reflects the capabilities, inclinations and susceptibilities of a user at a given location. The user’s current psychological location, the shape of the space around her (i.e., her psychological inertia) and the spatial and temporal shape of her historical path through the assessment grid (i.e., her psychological momentum) combined with any user-defined goal states, determine the narrative being presented. The assessment system is dynamic in that it updates itself in response to the results achieved by its user community.

Experience System queries are requests by the user to reach specified goal states. The Experience Generator accepts these requests and the associated user profile data from the Profile Manager and searches the Event Store for appropriate events that can facilitate the transition. These events can be based on exposure to electronic media such as videos, pictures, audio lectures, music and text. They can also include excursions into the offline world to lecture halls, theaters, museums, exercise facilities, stores, parks, beaches, work places and any other available sites. The Experience Generator sequences the selected events into different experiences and coordinates user access to them via the user interface. These experiences are designed to advance the user towards her goal state. They are generally presented in order of the greatest probability of success.

The Event Store is a Content Store that extends into the offline world. Events in the store are rated and cataloged by their potential impact on a given range of user capabilities, inclinations and susceptibilities based on provider assessments (heuristics), empirical data and theoretical extrapolations. Experience Systems manage events that are combined to form Minkowski data spaces that characterize both where and when events occur.

When you consider that we have only recently begun to produce Knowledge Systems, the advent of fully functioning Experience Systems is still some time off in our future. But much of the technology that would be required to produce such systems is already available to us. An assessment system with the requisite sophistication has yet to be developed but many its components already exist separately (there may even be a few of prototypes out there). It is only a matter of time before someone puts them together and triggers a major paradigm shift.

Experience Systems could easily represent the next generation of entertainment, education and life management technologies. As we continue to exploit the deeper potential of data systems, it is becoming increasingly evident that in lieu of a major scientific breakthrough (e.g., cold fusion, instantaneous teleportation, matter transmutation, etc.), this technology domain will be an increasingly important driver of human activity for the foreseeable future.

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