Killer Apps 2.0: Siri is Just the Teaser

Last summer I wrote about how speech-to-text software may be a killer app. At the time, I mentioned the rumor about what was to become Siri, the “talk to me” assistant in Apple’s then-upcoming iOS5. I also talked about Dragon Naturally Speaking, a PC-based system.

That was then: this is now. Apple itself is actually understating Siri’s capabilities – and Nuance, maker of Dragon Dictation, has made another huge advance for the you-and-me users out there. In this post, I’ll just deal with Siri: look for the Dragon post shortly.

[Note: I could spin this as being about trust, but that’d be a stretch. Sometimes I just get excited about other stuff – like cool work tools. Hope you like it too.]

Siri: Much More than Meets the Ear

You’ve seen the ads for Siri, seen friends demo it, maybe tried it yourself. And it’s impressive. You can tell Siri “Google the planet Pluto,” or “Remind me to pick up toothpaste next time I’m at the drugstore.” (I use this feature quite a bit).

But the truth is much more powerful. Those are parlor tricks, anthropomorphic gimmicks to introduce a new technology to the masses. You, Trust Matters readers, can handle The Truth. So let me tell it to you.

Forget the virtual assistant. Note instead that speech-recognition capability is now built in to the operating system. That means it’s available to you in almost every window, in almost every app on the iPhone.

What Siri Really Means ­– Now

Let me be clear about what that means. Once inside the data-entry part of an app, you can now speak, and your voice will be converted to text.

For example:

Email: speak your emails – they will convert to text

Messaging: speak your text messages – they will convert to text

Evernote: hit your Evernote app button and just start talking

Twitter: speak your tweets, stop finger-pecking them

Facebook: don’t tap your message, just say it

Google+: don’t type it, just speak it

Search: speak your Google or Bing searches – they will convert to text

Maps: speak your destinations – you get the idea.

You can now speak, instead of type, into almost any text-enterable field in any app. That means Notes, Salesforce, Quora, YouTube, NYTimes, Amazon – you name it.

  • Hate having to type on that little screen? That excuse is no longer valid.
  • Wish you had a dictation service? You do now.
  • Still taking notes by hand until you get home to enter them? Puh-leeze.

The 30,000 Foot View

This technology is not perfect; but it’s even better than the old Dragon app for the iPhone that I wrote about just six months ago, and it’s bound to get better.

As with all technologies, it will be more useful for some things than for others. I find it especially useful in dictating text messages, taking long notes of phone calls or meetings, and dictating thoughts about future articles or blog-posts.

Remember the core value proposition of voice-to-text: We can talk 5x as fast as we can write; and we can read 3x faster than we can listen. That’s a 15x systemic advantage for communications efficiency. When was the last time we saw a technology that improved communications efficiency by 1500%?

Siri is to voice-to-text as a camel’s nose in the tent is to the camel. This will be one very, very big ride.

Next post: voice to text on your Mac or PC desktop as a one-stroke utility – it’s here now.


Many Trusted Advisor programs now offer CPE credits.  Please call Tracey DelCamp for more information at 856-981-5268–or drop us a note @ [email protected].

Trusted Advisor Associates is Finally on Facebook

We’ve gone and done it.

Trusted Advisor Associates is on Facebook.

We wanted to take the time to officially announce our “big opening” on Facebook. Even with the release of Google+, Facebook is still a great source for building a community within social media.

And that’s precisely what we want to continue to do.

In addition to Trust Matters, Twitter, and Google+, we’re expanding our breadth and giving out useful thoughts, advice and tips on trust in business, society and life.

On Facebook we’ve already started a few running themes and topics that distinguish our presence from what we deliver on Trust Matters.  Some new items you’ll see:

  • Trust, Treps and Twenty-somethings: new advice and information for entrepreneurs and small business-owners
  • Trust Us, It’s Good: great new recommendations spanning the arts
  • Trust-related articles, tips and advice—direct from the horse’s mouth (hint: that means from our talented team here at TAA).

So, go ahead, Like Us on Facebook today.

And, by liking our page, you will also be entered to win a copy of Charles H. Green and Andrea P. Howe’s new book The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust (Wiley, October 31, 2011).

Trust and New Media: Request for Favorite Stories

I’m giving a talk in a few days to a large software company about trust and new social media.  I want to use examples to demonstrate the power of social media to increase trust–and to destroy it.

I’ve got several, but would love to hear from you.  What are some examples of trust creation or destruction involving new social media that you consider to be important, archetypal, paradigmatic (or any other big impressive adjective)?

Please add your stories via comments below: it could be a really interesting list we all could benefit from.

Thank you!

To Twitter or Not to Twitter: The Only Top Ten List You’ll Need

I’ve been twiddling with Twitter for a number of months. Only now I’m ready to get into it with both feet. If you’ve been following me on Twitter at cgreen23 or at trustedadvisors, please make the switch over to my new twitter account, CharlesHGreen.

Now: why should you care?

If you’re not a user, Twitter probably looks narcissistic to you. Why in the world should you want to read what thousands of other people are eating for breakfast? Answer: you shouldn’t, and you don’t have to. Nor does anyone else want to hear that stuff from you either.

The good news is, you can listen, or not, to anyone you want. And you can talk, but others will decide to listen to you, or not. It’s a (very) free market of ideas.

Twitter does a bad job of explaining itself in its invitation for users to state what’s going on. The real power of Twitter as I’ve come to see it is a new form of search, a new vehicle for relationship development, and a new form of promotion. And the last is least.  Or, if you prefer, twitter is the new email.  Or chatroom.  Or texting.  Or social network.  It’s a bit of all that.

Here are my top reasons to Twitter  (in ascending order of importance):

Charlie Green’s Top 10 Reasons to Twitter

10. To find out what all the buzz is about and who’s following Michelle Obama’s twitter account

 9.  To promote your name

 8.  To tap into current events well before the blogs pick it up

 7.  To do an incredibly fast, pointed, search that returns 1 paragraph answers

 6.  To find out perspectives about an issue–don’t forget to try Twitter Search

 5.  To aggregate information that people who like you would be interested in

 4.  To establish your own brand by coming up with a distinctive profile of information you offer up

 3.  To provide your followers with high quality information of use to them

 2.  To find 5-6 thought leaders you admire, and easily follow what they say, and what their followers say

 1.  To make new acquaintances who help you learn, grow, and do business with.

But don’t just listen to me. Here are some other, more experienced, Twitterers on the subject. If you want to decide whether and how to get into this, here’s a pretty good list to help you:

Top Ten List of Others’ Top Ten Reasons to Twitter

  1. Brian Critchfield’s Why Should I Use Twitter?
  2. Chris Brogan (from two years ago) on 5 Ways to Use Twitter for Good
  3. Business Week’s How Companies Use Twitter to Bolster Their Brands
  4. Guy Kawasasaki’s How to Use Twitter as a Twool
  5. Darren Rouse’s 9 Benefits of Twitter for Bloggers
  6. Lee Lefever’s Twittering for 1 Year – a Retrospective
  7. David Lee King’s Why Use Twitter?
  8. Sharon Sarmiento’s The Top 5 Ways Smart People Use Twitter
  9. Chris Brogan again (because he’s the King of Tweet, that’s why) on 50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business
  10. Wikipedia on Twitter

And you won’t believe how much faster (most of) this might have been on Twitter.

Oh, and that twitter address again is CharlesHGreen.

Greed in the Social Networking Space

It took the advertising industry about 150 years to get to the point of putting ads on the inside of bathroom doors. It took considerably less for the commercial vultures to zero in on the social network phenomenon. Except this time, it’s an inside job.

First, MySpace. In July of this year, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation bought MySpace, making a few more mega-zillionaires out of kids who were in it for kicks.  Murdoch knew better, and immediately set about “monetizing” his investment.

How’s it going for his target audience?

In the words of a college freshman, Marshall Green:

MySpace is going to end up just like Friendster.  Except for bands, some high school kids I know still use it but the trend has shifted to Facebook.

I think the main reason is the site design. MySpace just has a terrible interface that continues to deteriorate as the developers tack on extra features that Facebook integrates better.

The thing that Facebook does well, finding other people you know and connecting with them, are more of an afterthought on MySpace.

Instead of using AJAX and web 2.0 technology to update the page without reloading the whole thing or taking you to a new page, MySpace makes you jump through a bunch of screens to do simple things like leave comments. This is basic stuff that MySpace has neglected to do because they are lazy!

What’s worse is the amount of ads. Most ads on MySpace are sketchy, and in the past have linked to adware and spammers. Half the time when you visit their front page, the entire background is a giant ad for a Fox TV show or movie. It’s obtrusive and detracts from the experience.

It all gives you the sense that the company doesn’t care about delivering a good experience, they just want to make a lot of money with as little work as possible. The interface was never spectacular, but I noticed more ads and a slowdown in new features following the Fox takeover.

(Full disclosure: I am related to young Mr. Green by marriage; his mom’s to me).

That was several weeks ago. On November 6, the “good guys” in this space—Facebook—announced their new approach to incorporating advertising into that ostensibly wholesome society.

The gist of Facebook’s idea is to allow Big Advertisers in to make “friends” of existing users, and to build their reputation by demonstrating the “trust” that one’s “friends” have in the product being advertised.

As one wag put it, “so it’s like spamming your friends?”

You know you’re in for it when language gets reinvented, a la doubletalk like this from Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO and new gazillionaire:

Q: “Are you worried this will make Facebook too commercial?”
Z: “Actually I think this will make it less commercial because the ads now are [more generic].”

For a deliciously cynical take on this, see Nicholas Carr’s blog .

Marshall’s view?

If I start seeing notifications and friend requests everywhere from Coca Cola and Exxon Mobil, then Facebook will be on the way out for me. There are already some sneaky ads that masquerade as friend notifications. They trick you and I’ve nearly clicked on them several times before realizing they were ads.

If it gets as bad as MySpace people will find something better. There will obviously be another new trend in social networking sites in the future anyhow.

It’s been clear for centuries that you can always find success by going more down-market in taste than the last guy; more negative in political advertising than the other guy; and more overtly commercial than your competitor.

The question is: where’s the bottom?

When trust is just a tactic, “friends” are not what they seem, and social networks are flipped into cynical mouthpieces for corporate America, it feels like we’re pretty low.

Maybe Marshall’s right in thinking his generation will reject the hype.

But as H. L. Mencken said, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”

I wouldn’t short Murdoch and Zuckerberg just yet.