The Ultimate I/O - InformationWeek
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4/27/2009
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The Ultimate I/O

Researchers have sent a Twitter message by simply thinking it via a setup that read a user's thoughts, and then translated them into text. The folks at Twitter should embrace this experiment, and at least two of the wild possibilities it suggests.

Researchers have sent a Twitter message by simply thinking it via a setup that read a user's thoughts, and then translated them into text. The folks at Twitter should embrace this experiment, and at least two of the wild possibilities it suggests.The test was decidedly unsexy, in that the user had to actively think of individual letters to piece together a brief text message. Moving a cursor across a computer screen merely by the power of thought isn't new, per se, but applying it to the realm of social conversation is...especially matching a rather laborious input process to a severely limited output (messages on Twitter max out at 140 characters).

But I'm thinking down the road a bit. There's been chatter about Twitter getting acquired, along with sundry musing about its future utility. This brain-reading business suggests at least two potential applications that might make its brand stand for something far more than happy chatter:

First, why not throw gazillions against the technology, and make sending messages by thinking a no-brainer, so to speak?

Typing is dumb and slow, even if it's only 140 characters' worth, and so much of Twitter's brand proposition is about frequency and immediacy. If you could just think your updates, imagine how many people could throw at one another (and then start salivating over the ad revenue from folks paying attention to every post).

Second, if Twitter could read your mind, why not configure it so it would send what you were truly thinking, not just what you wanted to say?

Let's say every participant signed on to send a tweet to one another every hour, only they couldn't manipulate or otherwise control what they said? It would provide true visibility into what people were thinking. In other words, it could be a truth engine.

Frightening proposition? You bet. An amazing brand proposition? I think so.

The challenge would be to figure out whether there's any money to be made from such mind-reading...although nobody ever stopped to ask if there was money in swapping messages to begin with.

What do you think?

Jonathan Salem Baskin writes the Dim Bulb blog and is the author of Branding Only Works On Cattle.

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