Therapist: How’s your blog going?
Dr. Watson: Yeah, good. Very good.
Therapist: You haven’t written a word, have you?
Dr. Watson: You just wrote, “Still has trust issues.”
–”A Study in Pink,” Sherlock, BBC
I confess: I’m not an unalloyed fan of social media (luckily it didn’t stick, but for a short time my wife was calling me “Stan“). I’m one of those people who actually worries about Facebook’s offer to wrangle me in as some kind of vast graph problem. (You know what they say about the Interwebz: If you’re not paying, you’re not the customer, you’re the product.)
Trust issues indeed. And yet I’m not going to take cheap shots at Facebook today; far from it. Only going to point out that it isn’t exactly a coincidence that our upcoming launch of Sherlock — which is designed to fish relationships we don’t even know ahead of time are important out of vast networks of data — tracks so closely with the brouhaha, and vast promise, of graph analytics in social media. The fact is this technology is exploding into the private and academic sectors, having been a major intelligence asset among free world governments for some time now.
That thing where technology suddenly changes the world? It’s going to happen big time again. But I insist on being glass-half-full about it. We’re looking at the potential ability to model disease spread — and spot means of halting it — over the whole U.S. with every one of us 300 million in the model. Tracking down the black-hat hacker, hiding behind a sea of bots. Making sense of the otherwise-hopeless spaghetti of genes and proteins, and their relationships, within a cancer cell. It’s research: Nobody knows what’s going to work, what unexpected opportunities will present themselves. But as a starting point, that ain’t bad.
It isn’t coming. It’s already here. It’s going to be a hell of a show seeing where it takes us.