I’ve decided to start blogging about some of the principles underlying Campthat. For awhile now, I’ve been experimenting with an idea that I call “information genomes.” Today, I’ll explain the idea and some of the transformative impacts I think it will cause in the near future.
The idea works like this: When people search the web, they are often looking for a specific type of information. Maybe 99% of the time, this information can be broken down into a few thousand data points that summarize everything a person would normally want to know when they’re searching for this type of information. Just like a genome (comprised of DNA) determines the structure of living organisms, different types of information have genomes that determine the way people interact with the information.
That’s all a little abstract, so here’s a concrete example. Campthat’s specialty is information about places to camp. Suppose 40 million Americans look for a place to camp each year. 99% of the time, all of the useful information about a place to camp falls into specific categories that can be summarized in a few thousand points of data. Here are a few of the categories Campthat has identified so far:
- Dealbreakers: Things a campground must have to be useful and relevant. Does the campground have showers?
- Spacial relations Things that tell us how the campground interacts with other places that matter. Is it located on Lake Michigan?
- Experiential information: Things that tell us what it’s like to experience a campground. For example, reviews and words people use frequently to describe the campground.
- Social engagement: Things that tell us how groups of people use information. Who do you camp with and where have they camped?
- User patterns: Things that tell us about a specific user. Does this user prefer campgrounds with high privacy?
- Meta patterns: Things that tell us about users in general. What are the 10 most popular searches involving campgrounds in Michigan?
Alright. So that’s the basic idea. Why does it matter?
As a user, it matters because it lets Campthat provide a better experience for you. Eventually, Campthat will analyze millions of data points in an instant and recommend a perfect campground for you.
It marks changes in technology and society, too. Companies like Campthat are beginning to sprout up like dandelions. People are decoding information genomes at greater speed and to greater effect. Data that never existed on the web is starting to exist and becoming standardized. Ultimately, the web may be undergoing its greatest transformation since its creation. I think companies like Campthat are leading that charge but we’re just the tip of an iceberg.
It’s also turning the tides against old business models. How will Google search compete with Yelp, Pandora, TripAdvisor, Campthat, and hundreds of other specialized experts that are likely to arise in the near future? Google doesn’t have a core competence in camping, restaurants, or other specialized categories of information. Anyone with expertise in a field of knowledge can study the data, talk to customers who want the information, and decode it. Anyone who has taken a few online mobile development tutorials can create an app. And anyone can download that app and use it directly instead of using Google search. Now that’s cool. But not for Google.
By: Brian Flaherty, Co-founder