Needed: Canned Biography Website

17Oct09

Suppose I can go to a website and interactively say and learn who I am.  I enter the stuff I’m pretty sure of – age, weight, birthplace, and so on, for as many details as the database is configured to accommodate.  Then the website tells me all about who I am, based on what I have put in.  People like me tend to get divorced once, on average; die at age 78, give or take 5.5 years; have particular issues with joints or heart problems or whatever; and so forth.  If I can refine the information later – if, say, I upload data from my song collection, photo album, or checkbook – then the website can refine my understanding of who I am.  I might like songs by so-and-so, whom I’ve never heard of; Joe Smith, who appears in one of my photos, is now a member of Facebook; the transmission repair shop that gave me a lifetime warranty went out of business last year.

Based on the information I feed it, this website can write a first-draft biography for me.  I’m not interested in including the trip to the tranny shop, so I begin with a default value preference incorporating anecdotes based on automobile repair – or, at a more global level, I generally exclude retail transaction data from the biography.  The website attempts to tell its best tale about who’s in photo no. 42, again with interaction from me if I’m so inclined – the scene takes place in New Jersey, not Delaware, therefore that sign in the background indicates that this must be Newark, NJ, not Newark, DE.  I can decide on the form of arrangement for this biography:  it might be topical, based on different places I’ve lived or visited, or chronological, starting when I was a tyke, or it might be stream-of-thought, as a tale about a photo set in Newark leads to a transcript from a school I attended there.

The website can also prepare a first-draft résumé for me.  Other people who attended that school in Newark tended to describe it using these words, so the website goes with that, with drop-down alternatives.  Of course, if I’ve already worked through a bio, the résumé can draw pretty heavily from that for guidance.  It is also intelligent enough to focus the résumé on what appears to be the main point of the job description, job ad, or whatever I can tell it about the desired position.

Using the various data I’ve fed it, as supplemented by my interactions with its biography and/or résumé features, the website can work up a draft presentation of a singles ad, and can show me the results of other similarly designed ads, and alternatives, for people like me.  My feedback from the dating experience may lead to prompting for a revised sense of what job ads are most appropriate for me, or to a suggested alternate structure for my bio.  Such revisions will tend to improve the quality of solicitations from potential employers – I will be hearing from people whose job openings are closer to the mark for me – such that I may be able to stop actively jobhunting and just let the machine connect me with the places where I am most likely to belong.  Similarly, I may come to a better understanding of my actual as distinct from my assumed availability for participation in social groups and activities I might never have heard of, with better odds of fitting in, based again on what I can tell the system about my previous interactions with comparable kinds of groups.

If I am interested in refining the hits that I get, and further automating the search process, I might be prompted to enter a few seconds of video in response to specific questions flashed on the screen.  The list of questions in use, and of those that I have already answered, with my video answers, can then be mixed and matched for automated or random review by potential dates, employers, and other individuals, groups, and organizations.  My onscreen video list will indicate whether I appear to have been clothed casually or professionally, looked sad or laughed, etc. – just in case I want to tweak the entry, or add an alternate, for the particular use I now have in mind.

One unfortunate reality of job markets, dating markets, and so forth, is that people on both sides of the equation tend to see who they are and what they’re talking about through their own unique lens.  It could be very helpful, especially for people whose hits are not appropriate, if the system permitted an automatic mode in which the user temporarily surrendered control to, or sought frank feedback from, the system.  Word counts and other analyses of things that I have written could reveal that my language tends to be harsher than that of 95% of the adults my age, or that my face is actually the type that would tend to be considered attractive by far more people than I would have expected.  In its background mode, the system might pick up that I have typed the word “glum” or “depressed” more than three times in the last four minutes, which tends to indicate that I am especially interested in hearing about my attractive face rather than my disturbingly high odds of dying of esophageal cancer within the next ten years.  Of course, there are nearly endless implications for preventive health and early diagnosis of medical conditions.

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