That reflective time of the year is approaching. Is here.

"The best <insert keyphrase> of 2007", "20 Apps That Changed My Life in 2007", "8 2008 Predictions" -- and this post.

Let me raise a toast to the people whom most influenced me in 2007: my wife, my daughters, my mother.


Together, without fail, they put the things we do, the things you and I work on, in perspective.

When I'm alight with buzz because blogs do this, everybody on Twitter talks about that, Facebook just burped, Google PageRank slammed, Ask did weird, 54% of people online <insert whatever it is they do more or less> -- they are my reality check.

Quality Control Isn't Just About Malware

All of the family members I mentioned are computer users.

One daughter grew up with a mouse in her hand.

When she yells "Yahoooo!" out of happiness, I yell "Gooogle!!!". Sort of a social experiment....

Anyway, I have to do the searches for her to find the right sites where she can play child-friendly games -- in French.

No, porn isn't popping up for most Disney searches these days but some sites are plastered with ads my kid shouldn't see. Yes, virtual worlds are fun but does the ad have to be of a Bratz-like avatar?

Meaningful "Did you mean..."

Another daughter uses computers like a tool, especially for study. A

Like any sane tool-user, she gets pretty frustrated with The Machine when it doesn't work. And "doesn't work" includes not just a program that doesn't want what she wants; it's also when something she knows must be out there, doesn't show for her searches.

How about after 4 searches in the same topic realm we could receive a "Did you maybe mean...." that is actually relevant?

My Daughter is a Statistic

Another is, like me, a computer lover.

She has a blog. That is, she has an MSN profile where every 180 days or so something changes. She no doubt would tick "yes" on a survey that asks "do you own or maintain a blog?"

That puts those statistics into perspective for me...

A Computer is a Tool

My wife, who also works at search engine people, is a down to earth kind of person. Computer as a hobby. Digital scrapbooking. Photoshop. Creative. Handy. Smart.  Searches with keywords, not phrases.

She "grew up" with eGroups, the later Yahoo Groups. Forums hold no secrets for her.

She uses the computer in a social way but Social media, with a captial S, is not her thing. No, she's into social networking. Call it social media 1.0. It's what works across the experience levels of all her online contacts without creating the need for anyone to (re)register here or there.

Social media (2.0) has a long way to go. In many respects it is a step backwards from the networks people have built.

Beacon is Everywhere

My mother has been taught computer use by my brother and me. From email to, then, ICQ. To webcam. To digital photography. IPTC tagging. YouTube. Flickr. Blogs. Google. Attachments.

Makes me proud as hell. At the same time her security concerns, often prompted by the media, teach me that we have to do more to make more people feel safer online. For many people out there, everyday web use is freakier than anything you thought Facebook Beacon did wrong. It's a permanent beacon stage...