I met someone who invents the future!

If you would meet Elizabeth Churchill, you would want to know all she knows! Elizabeth is a Senior Research Scientist in the Internet Experiences Group at Yahoo! and she knows a lot of things you want to ask questions about!

In a very simplistic way, what Elizabeth and her team do at Yahoo! Labs, is analysing all sorts of data and known human behaviour to understand what triggers reactions to situations. Based on this understanding scientists are able to find out what would best suit our needs, apply this to technology and invent products that we will want to use in the future! In reality, it is far more complex and involves a lot of research, statistics, predictive modelling, testing and engineering… but you get the idea!


By the way 4Cast is one of those futuristic ideas and the research group at Yahoo! needs some feedback, so jump in and try!! 4Cast is a game of friendly competition where players cast their predictions on topics that interest them the most

They have also invented Yahoo! Zync, a prototype plug in that allows you to watch videos together with your friends, in sync and in real time. Instead of just IMing URLs and waiting for your friends to watch, Zync allows you to converse about a video (pausing, jumping back, and watching together with a friend). Both videos stay in sync.
So, to all, like me who were convinced that IM had been killed by Facebook chat… Think again, this type of tool has high “usefulness” (not usability)… and from an advertiser’s standpoint, the engagement metrics are through the roof!

Elizabeth is originally a doctor in psychology; her recent focus has been insights into social media, emerging digital media and the shifting landscape of people and groups that make up internet life. Some of her core beliefs about the future of digital are around the social psychology of trust and the notion that we are social not networked!

Not easy to summarise, but here is my go at it:
The social psychology of trust highlights the very fine line between content being relevant to creepy! With system like OAuth we have stepped into a world where our data travels with us from device to device; it allows us to get access to very personalized information until that information gets slightly too personalized (or put in the wrong context) and we totally lose the trust we had in a platform. This will have high implication in the future for behavioral target and single sign on!

We are social not networked: The relationships we have with people are very different according to who we are talking to. Your work colleagues might not know that you are passionate stamp collector! The way you behave, what you share with your mad stamp collector friends is totally different from what you share with your family, work colleagues or uni friends. Elizabeth is convinced that social networks need to move way beyond custom groups and discussion boards to remain relevant and to survive the growing privacy concerns

It suddenly gives you a different perspective when an academic scientist talks about digital and social media, doesn’t it?
If you are interested in reading more, a number of Elizabeth’s research studies can be found here.

Marie Sornin