The War for Our Texts

[Josh Constine at TechCrunch has an article]( about what he is calling the “message war” that Google, Apple, and Facebook are either already waging or are about to wage. While I rolled my eyes over the somewhat hyperbolic nature of the piece — it is TechCrunch and the world is always about to end or be revolutionized (sometimes at the same time) — I did find the following bit fascinating:

> People love content, but people need direct communication. Who you communicate with on a daily basis and via what medium are vital signals regarding where people sit in your social graph. Whichever company owns the most of this data will have better ways to refine the relevance of their content streams, showing you updates by the people you care about aka communicate with most, and showing ads nearby. Through natural language processing and analysis, whoever controls messages will also get to machine-read all of them and target you with ads based on what you’re talking about.

The social graph has become a cliché, at least among the technorati, but it is still powerful information that companies would like to have in order to market to us better, and perhaps on an individual basis. The nature of our relationships, as realized in actual messages, has always, so must of us have felt, been somewhat sacrosanct, off-limits, for us alone to know.

Well, that isn’t necessarily the case, since Google has always made a point of saying the ads shown through the web interface for its Gmail service are based, in some fashion, on the content of those e-mails. Like a lot of people, I have a GMail account, but it is strictly used as a channel for people I don’t know or who need pro forma contact information. (Site registrations, software licenses, and the like.) Thus, what Google gleans about me from reading my Gmail account is rather one-dimensional.

But I do text, and when I do text, it is with those closest to me, which is why I assume everybody wants access to that data. More interestingly, the way they are going to access that data is through a technology that I myself am interested in, *natural language processing*.

The world just keeps getting more and more interesting.